Earlier this week, the Shaw Memorial on Beacon Street in Boston was splashed with a bucket of yellow paint. The monument depicts Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the men of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry marching to battle. The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was made up of "colored" Civil War soldiers. The memorial, Augustus Saint-Gaudens's most popular work, has been closely identified with the Academy-Award-winning movie Glory, starring Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, and Denzel Washington.
Monuments of all sorts get defaced and many monuments honoring Black Americans were also been destroyed or defaced back in the days of the civil rights movement. What makes this story different is the perpetrator of the crime: Rosemine Occean, an African-American woman from nearby Quincy, Massachusetts.
Why would a black woman choose to deface this monument, and what exactly does she find so objectionable about how it interprets or memorializes the service of black Civil War soldiers? It is likely that we will never know, given reports concerning her mental health. Arresting officers indicated that she disagreed with the memorial's interpretation. After being arraigned in a Boston court, it was reported that Ms. Occean would undergo psychological evaluation.
You can read more in an article by Civil War historian Kevin M. Levin , published in The Atlantic, at http://goo.gl/J7P1F.
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