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Hundreds of professors want NYC monuments to Teddy Roosevelt, Christopher Columbus removed

Hundreds of professors have signed onto a letter calling for New York City to remove monuments honoring Theodore Roosevelt and Christopher Columbus, saying the statues of the historical figures represent “white supremacy.”

The scholars made their request earlier this month in an open letter to New York’s Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers. The letter calls on the panel, established in September by Mayor Bill De Blasio, to recommend several monuments be scrubbed from city property and relocated to inside museums.

The statues of Roosevelt, the 26th president, and the Italian explorer Columbus are among five so-called “objects of popular resentment” the professors are petitioning to have removed.

“For too long, they have generated harm and offense as expressions of white supremacy. These monuments are an affront in a city whose elected officials preach tolerance and equity,” the letter says of the monuments, some of which have been targets of protest and vandalism in the past.

Earlier this month, Hyperallergic, an arts and culture website, reported the letter had more than 120 signatures. It has since amassed hundreds of additional signatures.

Those who have signed onto the letter include from professors from New York colleges including Columbia University, Brooklyn College and New York University as well as from far-flung institutions such as the University of California Santa Cruz and the University of New Mexico.

The College Fix reached out to more than a dozen signatories for comment, but did not receive any responses.

The academics’ request comes as New York city grapples with potentially removing controversial monuments located on city property. Following an August white nationalist rally in Virginia that left one person dead, De Blasio announced on Twitter the city would review its “symbols of hate.”

And while scores of professor have attached their name to the recent open letter, higher education already has a prominent role in the decision making process regarding the monuments. Six of the panel’s members are professors.

Describing Theodore Roosevelt as an “imperialist, and frank advocate of eugenics,” the open letter from the scholars asserts his statue’s removal would make a “bold statement” that racism won’t be celebrated in New York city.

The statue, located outside the city’s American Museum of Natural History, includes the former president on horseback with an American Indian, dressed in traditional garb, and an African man surrounding Roosevelt.

“Even casual visitors who may not possess this knowledge regard the monument as a stark embodiment of white supremacy, and it is an especial source of hurt to Black and Indigenous people among them,” the scholars state in their letter.

As for the Columbus Statue, located in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle, the letter states it’s the “most controversial of the monuments” but that it needs to be removed because the explorer was part of “historical genocide.”

“By 1600, at least 50 million Indigenous people died in this hemisphere as a result of the Columbian encounter with Europeans, whether from war, disease or enslavement. It takes only a little understanding to see why their descendants do not regard anything associated with 1492 as an object of veneration,” the letter states.

The other monuments that the open letter request the city panel recommend be removed includes a Central Park statue of a white, 19th century doctor that performed “surgical experiments” on female slaves and two markers dedicated to two men the letter describes as “Nazi collaborators.”

“There are no defenders of these monuments, and they have no place on City property,” the letter states.

While the professors are calling on the monuments to be removed from city property, they write in their letter that they don’t want to see the statutes collect dust in storage. The letter recommends the controversial pieces of art be showcased instead in museums or at memorials that can better flesh out the history and context behind them.

MORE: Pepperdine U.’s Columbus statue kept mothballed after ‘oppression’ protests

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About the Author
Nathan Rubbelke is a staff reporter for The College Fix with a specialty on investigative and enterprise reporting. He has also held editorial positions at The Commercial Review daily newspaper in Portland, Indiana, as well as at The Washington Examiner, Red Alert Politics and St. Louis Public Radio. Rubbelke graduated from Saint Louis University, where he majored in political science and sociology.

Add to the Discussion

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  • Ramos Washington

    Smallpox? Native Americans committed much greater “genocide” by giving Europeans tobacco.

  • doctorweird

    Trump was absolutely right when he said the left would move from Confederate monuments to US presidents. Go to hell, and leave Teddy alone you traitorous idiots.

    • MarcusOhreallyUS

      We all know what happens to traitors, eventually.

    • JD

      The only time Trump has been right was when he said that people under FBI investigation shouldn’t be president. And while I don’t agree with this (although that TR statue is pretty bad), the only traitors I see are Trump and his idiot cultists.

  • Ralph Davis

    I guess this means Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama won’t be getting any statues since we can’t honor any “frank advocate[s] of eugenics”. At least Hillary has her Margaret Sanger award to put on the mantle.

  • DonHonda


    DAVE NEESE: Cleaning up our historical act

    “We must seize this opportunity to indulge ourselves in smug moral righteousness, in “virtue-signaling,” as it has come to be named. “

  • DonHonda

    Apparently, “native americans” were not the first “indigenous” people here in North America. Evidence is mounting that they pushed out a previous population of European-centric origin:

    The Smithsonian Magazine:
    The Very First Americans May Have Had European Roots
    Some early Americans came not from Asia, it seems, but by way of Europe

    The Washington Post:
    Radical theory of first Americans places Stone Age Europeans in Delmarva 20,000 years ago

    The National Geographic:
    Controversy erupted after skeletal remains were found in Kennewick, Washington, in 1996. This skeleton, estimated to be 9,000 years old, had a long cranium and narrow face—features typical of people from Europe, the Near East or India—rather than the wide cheekbones and rounder skull of an American Indian.

    Ancient DNA reveals that the ancestors of modern-day Native Americans had European roots. The discovery sheds new light on European prehistory and also solves old mysteries concerning the colonisation of America.


  • DonHonda

    The blog, Hyperallergic, is aptly named. The owner/moderator cannot tolerate any opinion that doesn’t align with his own and deletes/bans anyone who expresses one otherwise.

  • Daiseymae

    Go the hell losers!

  • Chip Kusmaul

    Columbus is guilty of absolutely nothing. As a European, he discovered that there were two continents that Europeans knew nothing about. Of course, at that time, Columbus had no idea what he had discovered or how massive the continents were. In fact, it is assumed that he landed on the islands of the Caribbean, and never actually set foot on mainland North America. He never conquered anybody nor took over anybody’s land. He did trade with the “Indians”, which brought to them, for the first time, horses, steel implements, and guns.

    Yes, the US federal government centuries later allowed the import of blacks slaves, and still later ran the Indians off their land. That wasn’t Columbus, and it wasn’t me or any of my ancestors. It was the federal government which, at the time, was controlled by Democrats. So let’s place blame where it belongs, the Democratic party.

  • MarcusOhreallyUS

    You’re GD right! Whites ARE superior.

    • Peter from Oz

      Not liberals. They are inferior

  • TxMedRgr

    It will never end. First it was Confederate flags, then statues, now memorials to past Presidents; next it will be anything which relates to European culture. They will be not be satisfied to all traces of Whites and Western culture are gone, and along with it, American society.

  • GulfPundit

    Teddy Roosevelt was a ‘frank advocate of eugenics?’ Do you really want to go there? Yes, TR was a progressive, so it’s unremarkable that he supported a progressive idea. It was also a rather popular theory among academics and was widely taught from Harvard to Stanford. And let’s not get started on the Carnegie Institution, Rockefeller Foundation, Margaret Sanger, George Bernard Shaw… These ‘scholars’ are intellectual frauds and clumsy propagandists with no sense of historical context when it doesn’t serve their purposes.

  • Christian Carle

    what a loads of bollocks, until this idiots started this hate campaign nobody really cared about Columbus & Confederate statues.