Teddy gets cancelled

One too many and you suddenly snap..

I have always considered the statue of TR outside the American Museum in New York to be part and parcel of the total Museum experience at my all time favorite museum- I mean , Teddy was among other things such a NEW YORKER.

Even when I was a child I considered the statues a tribute to the nobility of his companions, a fairly unusual and even unlikely one in its time. (The African is armed, BTW!)

A scholar wrote: “As an early champion of civil rights and equality for black and Native Americans during the early 20th century, many feel the statue depicts Roosevelt as leading minority persons in the U.S. forward towards the promises made to all under the U.S. constitution. Roosevelt’s relationship with Booker T. Washington and his appointment of Minnie Cox as the first black regional postmaster in the United States (Indianola, MS) is seen as further cementing this view. Roosevelt’s own comments regarding race indicated that he believed all the races were equal, but some cultures were superior due to their greater technological advances over time. The sculptor of the statue, James Earle Fraser, stated the intent with these words: “The two figures at [Roosevelt’s] side are guides symbolizing the continents of Africa and America, and if you choose may stand for Roosevelt’s friendliness to all races.”

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Even at ten— even back then, I knew there was a certain condescension in its design. But I also sensed that Roosevelt considered his unusual companions to be utterly noble, an unusual lesson when they were made and a valuable one for me in the fifties.

Banning these beautiful statues makes no sense; if a sensitive ten year old could understand their complex, not entirely conscious message then, he or she could now.

TR, with our friend Kirk Hogan

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