Lucian K. Truscott IV wrote that Thomas Jefferson's memorial in Washington, DC, should be replaced with one to Harriet Tubman.
- Thomas Jefferson's direct descendant is calling for the Washington, DC, memorial dedicated to the third president to be taken down.
- Lucian K. Truscott IV wrote that Jefferson's memorial should be replaced with one to Harriet Tubman.
- Truscott's calls for his ancestor's memorial to be replaced come amid a nationwide conversation on racism and white supremacy.
- "To see a 19-foot-tall bronze statue of a Black woman, who was a slave and also a patriot, in place of a white man who enslaved hundreds of men and women is not erasing history. It's telling the real history of America," Truscott wrote.
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A direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson is calling for the Washington, DC, memorial to the third US president to be removed and replaced with a monument to Harriet Tubman.
"[Jefferson's] memorial in Washington should be taken down and replaced. Described by the National Park Service as 'a shrine to freedom,' it is anything but," Lucian K. Truscott IV wrote in a New York Times op-ed. "In Jefferson's place, there should be another statue. It should be of Harriet Tubman."
Truscott's great-aunts and great-grandmother were the great-granddaughters of Jefferson.
He said Jefferson's plantation in Virginia, Monticello, already serves as a "perfect" monument to his ancestor, stating that it "reveals him with his moral failings in full, an imperfect man, a flawed founder."
"The memorial is a shrine to a man who during his lifetime owned more than 600 slaves and had at least six children with one of them, Sally Hemings. It's a shrine to a man who famously wrote that 'all men are created equal' in the Declaration of Independence that founded this nation — and yet never did much to make those words come true," Truscott wrote. "Upon his death, he did not free the people he enslaved, other than those in the Hemings family, some of whom were his own children. He sold everyone else to pay off his debts."
He went on to note that some of Jefferson's white descendants went on to fight for the Confederacy during the Civil War in "defense of slavery."
"We don't need the Jefferson Memorial to celebrate him. He should not be honored with a bronze statue 19 feet tall, surrounded by a colonnade of white marble. The time to honor the slave-owning founders of our imperfect union is past. The ground, which should have moved long ago, has at last shifted beneath us," Truscott said.
Jefferson, who owned more than 600 slaves in his lifetime, has increasingly embodied the paradoxical nature of America — a country that is purportedly dedicated to freedom but was built by slaves and continues to exhibit pervasive racism.
Truscott said the time has come to honor one of the country's "founding mothers," referencing Tubman, whom he described as "a woman who fought as an escaped slave to free those still enslaved, who fought as an armed scout for the Union Army against the Confederacy — a woman who helped to bring into being a more perfect union after slavery, a process that continues to this day."
Tubman not only led dozens of enslaved Black people to freedom on the Underground Railroad, she also became the first woman to lead an armed military raid in 1863 — liberating more than 700 enslaved Black people in the process.
"To see a 19-foot-tall bronze statue of a Black woman, who was a slave and also a patriot, in place of a white man who enslaved hundreds of men and women is not erasing history. It's telling the real history of America," Truscott wrote.
Truscott's calls for the removal of the monument come amid a nationwide discussion on racism, largely catalyzed by the brutal death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police in May. Floyd's death led to mass protests across the US. Though the demonstrations have largely been peaceful, they've also involved vandalism at times — including the tearing down of monuments to various figures from US history.
Trump has pushed fervently against removing monuments, and in the process has controversially offered a full-throated defense of symbols to the Confederacy.