Hank's Take: Should statues of slave owners be taken down in Philadelphia?

As people look at the statues of notable historical figures in Philadelphia, they see many things: some see the good they’ve done historically, but many others see them as slave owners and don't want to look at them anymore.

“Due to the racism that we have in the world, yes, they all should come down. Every slave owner needs to be removed in America. Straight like that - there's nothing else to talk about,” said Scott, who attended a ‘Slave Owners Tour’ of City Hall.

After others were taken down, people gathered Monday to protect the South Philly Columbus statue. However, it is hard to protect a statue from the bad history it's subject created.

Another example is seen through Robert Morris, who is known as the "Financier of the Revolution." On his statue, it says that he traded slaves, and yet we still built a statue of him.

In fact, many historical figures, including various signers of the Declaration of Independence owned slaves, according to documentarian Arlen Parsa.

“You know, putting the dots over that historic painting of that historic moment really opened peoples' eyes to the fact that the men who signed this document - while it was a very good document were also imperfect as men - certainly by today's standards and even by the standards of the day,” he said. 

The President's House on Independence Mall examines the slaves George Washington brought to Philly when he became this nation’s first president. Alex says that public school never covered that part of history.

“The fear is that - people are fearful of - to change what they were taught. The fear is that we're afraid to accept things the way they really were.” said Parsa.

He continued, “Frankly, what I was taught and what you were taught all these years ago in school is a little bit different than perhaps what we should be learning. Hopefully a lot of teachers today are starting to reflect and thinking about next time they can get students in a classroom with some sense of normalcy, maybe they can teach some of this history in a more thoughtful way.”

It’s interesting that wealthy landowners signed a declaration that stated "all men are created equal," but nearly three quarters of them were slave owners with no intention of emancipation in their own homes. Orwell said it best: "All men are created equal, but some are more equal than others." 

Equality over lip-service — that’s what this is about. I'm Hank, and that's my take.


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