In defense of the Emancipation Memorial paid for and dedicated by newly freed slaves with pennies that they gathered amongst themselves for the remembrance of the Emancipator. The only book my ancestors ever were allowed to read on occasion was the Bible. They paralleled the story of freedom to the story of Moses. They saw Abraham Lincoln as Moses
In A More Perfect Union, I write on page 158 and 159:
“In the meantime, Grants Army had forced itself on Richmond on Sunday, April 1, as President Davis rushed from a church service to escape. The Confederate government evacuated it on April 2.
Lincoln visited Richmond on April 4, went to the Confederate White House, and sat in the president’s chair. As he walked the streets of Richmond crowds gathered around, including former slaves, who proclaimed him, among other things, “the great Messiah.“ Overwhelmed by rare emotions, Lincoln said to one Black man who fell on his knees in front of him: “Don’t kneel to me. That’s not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank Him for the liberty you will enjoy hereafter. “ “Describing these events in Richmond from a desk in the Confederate capital was the Philadelphia Press reporter T Morris Chester, a Black man.”
Enthusiastic for police reform and overly fervent for political correctness regarding statues – but ignorant of the importance of a statue in the District of Columbia and Civil War history – mostly white liberal protesters went to Lincoln Park in the nation’s Capitol where a statue of Abraham Lincoln and Mary McCloud Bethune bookmark the park and demanded that the Lincoln Statue be torn down. They found offensive the image of a black man on his knees looking up at Lincoln. The protestors argued that such an image was humiliating to black people. But they apparently didn’t know the history and meaning of the statue. In gratitude for what Lincoln had done in ending slavery, the statue was the result of black people literally contributing their pennies so the statue could be constructed. It seems likely that they were unaware of the history and meaning of this statue. Would they have found a statue depicting the event that T. Morris Chester recorded in Richmond, Virginia offensive? Without the historical context they might have.
You see we were not there. But the newly freed men had lived through 15 Presidents. They had prayed to a God that they had never seen, and they imagined through the story of Moses an emancipator and a liberator would come and set them free.
Martin Luther King’s father, Affectionately known as “Daddy King” was a “Lincoln Republican” out of respect for this event.
We can morally defend the Emancipation memorial. Our confederate sympathizers can only militarily defend the behavior of treason. I inserted language in an interior appropriations bill for broader interpretation at all of the historic sites in an effort to preserve all of the histories with its broadest interpretation to protect ALL historical remembrances.