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Sculptor honors black trailblazers to 'educate'

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics - Duration: 02:08s - Published
Sculptor honors black trailblazers to 'educate'

Sculptor honors black trailblazers to 'educate'

Empty pedestals, where statues of Confederate soldiers once stood, have stirred debate over who and what should replace them.

Black sculptors and historians hope the aftermath will give communities around the country a chance to honor often-forgotten African-American trailblazers.

In her studio in Oakland, California, sculptor Dana King works on her latest piece.

A statue of Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P.


"Huey was a man for the people.

He wanted to lift up Black people and so much is not known about the Panthers and so much misinformation about the Panthers is out there.

And sculpture can help educate." Now - after statues of Confederate soldiers were removed amid nationwide protests against racial injustice, a debate has risen over who and what should replace the toppled statues.

Black sculptors and historians hope the aftermath will give communities around the country a chance to honor often-forgotten African-American trailblazers, like William Lanson.

In September, King will unveil this sculpture of Lanson - a formerly enslaved Black man who worked to extend New Haven’s Long Wharf, making the Connecticut port competitive with nearby New York.

King's situation is rare.

"There are so many incredible black sculptors.

And yet so much of the work that has been created on our behalf, if you will, has been done by white sculptors.

Of the more than 5,000 public outdoor sculptures registered in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Inventories Catalog, less than a quarter of the roughly 700 works in the “Ethnic-African American” category were made by Black sculptors.

"I think it's important to bring your memory to it.

And our memory has not been served by having sculptures of us done by white people.

I'd like to see that change." As for what to do with the empty plinths, King thinks they should be left that way.

"Sculpture takes up space and space is power.

Those empty plinths are also powerful in that they should not be used for anything right now." King says she would not want her sculptures on one of those plinths.

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