Per the Mayor, Brooklyn is going to become the new home of a controversial figure of African-American history.
By order of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the NYC Parks Department removed the monument of Dr. James Marion Sims from Central Park earlier today for relocation at Green-Wood Cemetery, where Sims is buried.
The move comes in the wake of the unanimous decision by The Public Design Commission to relocate the statue.
Sims (1813–1883) was a noted obstetrician and gynecologist, whose medical advances were achieved through practice of surgical techniques on enslaved Black women. Sims is buried at Green-Wood Cemetery.
Sims is regarded for his work for finding a cure for pregnancy-related fistula — a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder that is caused by prolonged obstructed labor, leaving a woman incontinent of urine or feces or both. In his search for a surgery that would fix the condition, Sims operated on three enslaved women, multiple time, who suffered from fistulas.
However, the move has many electeds disgruntled by the decision, including Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, who would rather have a more representative historical figure in his home borough.
“I respect the vote of the Public Design Commission to move the statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims to Green-Wood Cemetery, but I would frankly prefer if it weren’t coming to Brooklyn at all. My focus continues to be on advancing a new series of citywide monuments and memorials that honor worthy New Yorkers from underrepresented groups, including immigrants, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color,” said Adams.
The removal comes as part of the recommendations from the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, that formed last year in the wake of a national drive to remove dozens of controversial statues and monuments across the nation.
City Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood) applauded the move but also noted the need for increased awareness when it comes to historical figures across the city.
“The Marion Sims statue had to come down, for the same reason that I fought for a plaque to be put up acknowledging the slave market on Wall Street. We cannot ignore the despicable actions of the past, but recognizing those actions does not mean putting those who commit them on a pedestal. Marion Sims engaged in the disgusting exploitation of people of more color, and this monument celebrating him should have been removed long ago,” said Williams
Last year, the Parks Department announced that it would add a plaque to the Sims monument to provide historical context to the statue and to honor Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey – three victims of Sims’ medical experiments. However, the plague has yet to be added.
The statue was first erected in Central Park in 1894. Currently, plans are being developed to commission a new monument on the statue’s old site while a temporary sign stands in its place.