PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A day after the statue of Thomas Jefferson was toppled outside the North Portland school named for him, the fallen bronze statue was hauled away by school workers.
Protesters tore it down with ropes on Sunday night and spray painted it with the words,”George Floyd” and “Slave Owner.”
Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers and the author of the Declaration of Independence, owned hundreds of slaves.
The Black Lives Matter march on Sunday began at Jefferson High School, but the statue was pulled down after most demonstrators left the area to head to Alberta Park. The school has the highest percentage of African-American students in Portland high schools and the graduation rate has climbed from 54% to almost 90%.
Ronnie Manus, who graduated from Jefferson High School in 1969, said he understands why the statue was taken down.
“It was bittersweet actually, being an African-American, knowing the reason it came down but being a proud Jefferson graduate,” he told KOIN 6 News. “I hate to see it go, but it has its purpose for leaving.”
There are bigger racial issues than a statue and a name, one prominent graduate told KOIN 6 News.
“Some of the racism that has occurred over the years, the boundary changes, the bond measure … Jefferson is the second oldest school and not had a bond passed to work on the old decrepit school — that’s the racism involved in that is what i want to talk about,” said SEI founder Tony Hopson.
Others see the symbolic event of removing the statue as part of a new movement of change.
“We will never go back,” Darrell Millner said. “This is a transformative time. The younger generation is not going to turn a blind eye.”
About Thomas Jefferson (History.com)
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president, was a leading figure in America’s early development. During the American Revolutionary War (1775-83), Jefferson served in the Virginia legislature and the Continental Congress and was governor of Virginia. He later served as U.S. minister to France and U.S. secretary of state, and was vice president under John Adams (1735-1826). Jefferson, who thought the national government should have a limited role in citizens’ lives, was elected president in 1800. During his two terms in office (1801-1809), the U.S. purchased the Louisiana Territory and Lewis and Clark explored the vast new acquisition. Although Jefferson promoted individual liberty, he was also a slaveowner. After leaving office, he retired to his Virginia plantation, Monticello, and helped found the University of Virginia.