Dr. James Marion Sims Statue Removed For Turbulent History With Black Women

A controversial statue of 19th century gynecologist Dr. James Marion Sims is reportedly being removed from its current East Harlem location in New York City to Brooklyn, The New York Daily News.

Officials uprooted the monument because of the turbulent history that surrounds Sims’ medical work. While he did establish the first women’s hospital in New York City in 1855, he performed a slew of surgical procedures on enslaved black women without anesthesia. He used these women as his “guinea pigs.” Because of the dehumanizing and racist experiments, activist groups from the East Harlem community have been fighting for the statue’s removal.

Reportedly, provocative protests took place last summer where the statue was defaced, and smeared with stains of red paint; the word “racist” was also emblazoned on the structure. Most of the protesters were black women sporting loose clothing smeared with red—representing the blood of the enslaved black women Sims experimented on.

Moreover, a special commission on monuments started by Mayor Bill de Blasio recently voted that the statue be replaced by an informational plaque citing all the damage Sims did to black women during his practice.

The fight to remove Sims’ statue has been active since 2010, mainly led by the East Harlem Preservation organization. Another statue in Columbia, South Carolina of Sims has sparked major outrage, albeit being Sims’ hometown. The city’s first African-American mayor, Steve Benjamin, finds the statue offensive. Sims has been a topic of major discussion among the black community lately, especially with it being Black History Month. Here are some opinions via Twitter:

Sims’ statue is now reportedly being moved to Green Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where he’s buried.