The statue of Theodore Roosevelt atop a horse at the entrance to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City will be removed, due to “the racial hierarchy it depicts,” according to the museum.
The bronze statue of the 26th president of the United States, flanked by an African American and a Native American, has been standing before the museum since 1940, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.
The museum asked that it should be moved, and the city, which owns the property and the museum, approved the request on Sunday night.
“The statue was meant to celebrate Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) as a devoted naturalist and author of works on natural history,” said the museum in a statement. “At the same time, the statue itself communicates a racial hierarchy that the Museum and members of the public have long found disturbing.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that the city supports the museum’s request. “It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue,” he said.
The museum’s action came amid a new moment of reckoning of racial injustice in the United States. After weeks of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protesters across the country have turned their focus onto the statues of historic figures with a connection to slavery, such as Robert E. Lee and Winston Churchill.
Last week, a statue of Nathaniel Rochester, the founder of the city of Rochester in upstate New York, was sprayed with anti-racism messages. Rochester was a Revolutionary War figure and a slave owner.
New York City Council members have also demanded that a statue of Thomas Jefferson be removed from the City Hall. Jefferson was the third president of the United States and owned more than 600 African-American slaves, according to historical documents.