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I read with great interest the ...


I read with great interest the recent article regarding the local controversy over the appropriateness of a black lawn jockey sited in front of an historic home. As an historian who specializes in American slavery, the Underground Railroad (UGRR) and the pursuit of freedom, I can assure you that the lawn jockey statue was never used as a signal on the UGRR. The statue was first designed and manufactured after the Civil War, making its use as a tool to guide people to freedom impossible. The myth of the lawn jockey first appears in 1951, but takes on greater importance during the 1980s with Mr. Charles Blockson's unsubstantiated claims. A quick call to the Blockson Collection at Temple University reveals there is no primary source documentation for this story. The Cousens' are like many people who own these statues - they are not racist. They are, however, unaware of the historical and cultural context that makes the statue a painful reminder of the Jim Crow era. Mr. Fetzer is entitled to his complaint. These vestiges of our nation's discriminatory and racist past belong in museums and not on front lawns.

Kate Clifford Larson, Ph.D.
September 12, 2013


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