Sanford Biggers Leads Re:mancipation Project At CHazen Art Museum In Madison, Wisconsin

Chadd Scott, Forbes, February 22, 2023

Black freedom as an act of white power. That’s the problem. White supremacy.


A partially-clothed freedman kneels before an impeccably dressed Abraham Lincoln who “heroically” breaks the chains of slavery with one outstretched hand while clasping the Emancipation Proclamation in the other. Lincoln’s expression, tender, paternal. The figure remains on the ground, unable to free himself, a non-participant, naïve, dependent upon his white savior.


The scene is depicted in Thomas Ball’s 1873 Emancipation Group, a marble sculpture that served as a study of Emancipation Memorial, Ball’s bronze monument erected in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park. Both artworks reflect deeply racist, anti-Black perspectives. These are insulting, humiliating portrayals–a later day caveman representing an entire race of people widely considered at the time of production to lack the intellect or agency to secure their own freedom, completely ignoring the centuries of hard damn work in the face of unthinkable horror Africans brought to America for slavery and their descendants undertook to claim their freedom.


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