2021 Photo Contest, World Press Photo of the Year Nominee

Emancipation Memorial Debate


Evelyn Hockstein

For The Washington Post

25 June, 2020

A man and woman disagree on the removal of the Emancipation Memorial, in Lincoln Park, Washington DC, USA.

The Emancipation Memorial shows Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation in one hand, with his other hand over the head of a Black man in a loincloth, kneeling at his feet. Critics argue that the statue is paternalistic, demeaning in its depiction of Black Americans, and that it doesn’t do justice to the role that Black people played in their own liberation. Those against removal say it is a positive depiction of people being freed from the shackles of slavery, and that removing such monuments can amount to an erasing of history. The drive to remove the statue came amid a wave of calls to take down monuments of Confederate generals nationwide, a move largely welcomed by activists from the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, who see Confederate and other such monuments as reminders of an oppressive history. They call for a more honest accounting of American history. Officials had erected barriers around the Emancipation Memorial in advance of demonstrations. Residents posted notes on the fence expressing their views, and on 25 June around 100 people gathered at the monument arguing about what it meant. In February 2021, congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton reintroduced a bill in the US Congress to have the statue removed and taken to a museum.

About the photographer

Evelyn Hockstein

Evelyn Hockstein is a photojournalist based in Washington, DC. She is President of WPOW, the Women Photojournalists of Washington and has worked in more than 70 countries cove...

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