NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — A descendant of Thomas Jefferson says removing the former president’s statue from the New York City Council chamber is “a good thing,” but he doesn’t believe the Founding Father should be erased from history.
A city commission voted Monday to remove the 1833 statue from the chamber by the end of the year.
“I think it’s a good thing to make people feel better as taxpayers, when they’re walking in those same hallways every day trying to do what’s right for justice and law, that they feel equal to those that are also there and don’t feel like they’re being in some form or fashion belittled by the fact that the statue is there looking over them.”
Jefferson was a key author of the Declaration of Independence, but he was also a slave owner. He fathered at least six children with enslaved servant Sally Hemings. LaNier is their sixth great-grandson.
“I used to give Jefferson a pass as well and say, ‘But he was a Founding Father, he was a president,’ but he was a man who knew right from wrong,” LaNier said. ” Yes, the fact that he tried to abolish it proved he knew it was wrong. But the fact that he never freed his own slaves proves that he was wrong also.”
Right now, it’s unclear where the statue will go. LaNier hopes it will be put in an educational or historical environment so people do “not erase him from history,” but learn the truth.
“He’s a great part of the foundation of this country,” LaNier said. “He did many amazing things for this country. I think we have to see him as his whole totality of who he was and what he did. Yes, he was a great Founding Father and the third president, but he was also a man who owned people and knew it was wrong.”