Who is Dr. J. Marion Sims and what is a statue honoring someone who experimented on enslaved Black women doing in East Harlem, New York?
Controversies over statues memorializing racism (and sexism) are not limited to one region of the United States. New York City is home to a statue celebrating Dr. J. Marion Sims, who has been described as the father of modern gynecology. It has long been known, however, that his medical discoveries were made based on surgeries performed without consent or anesthesia on enslaved Black women. Nothing on or associated with this statue, or others of him, acknowledges this history in any way.
Years-long efforts by such community organizations as East Harlem Preservation to have the statue removed or supplemented in a way that explains the torture behind these medical developments have not thus far succeeded. In July, Pregnancy Justice joined this effort, demonstrating our opposition to this statue.
This one-hour webinar by two leading scholars, Dr. Jennifer L. Morgan and Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens, addresses the full history, the controversy, and where we might go from here.