A collection of 350 sculptures that commemorate America's "original sin" of slavery is set to arrive by Juneteenth at the Golden Gate Park's Music Concourse.
The work, titled "Monumental Reckoning," can be seen in preview form in the video below, and it is by Bay Area sculptor — and former KPIX anchorwoman! — Dana King. Already approved by the Rec & Park Commission and the Arts Commission, the piece features 350 figures that represent the 350 kidnapped Africans who sailed across the Atlantic in 1619 aboard the Spanish slave ship San Juan Bautista. As NBC Bay Area reports, the figures will encircle the plinth that used to hold a statue of Francis Scott Key, until protesters toppled the statue last year, on Juneteenth.
Key was a slave owner and anti-abolitionist, and as the video notes, the little-sung third verse of "The Star-Spangled Banner" contains the lyrics, "No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave."
King's installation will be accompanied by one from Illuminate SF, the organization that brought us the Bay Lights. That will feature the words "Lift Every Voice" projected on the Spreckels Temple of Music across the concourse — in reference to the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing," by civil rights champion James Weldon Johnson, which has been called the Black national anthem."
"Monumental Reckoning" still needs approval from the Historic Preservation Commission and the Planning Commission, but if approved, it will go in by June 19 and live in the park for two years.
"The art and monuments that we choose to display in our city and the civic art that fills our public spaces must reflect the diversity of our community, and honor our history,” said Mayor London Breed in a statement last week. “This powerful public art installation in Golden Gate Park will help us not only commemorate Juneteenth, but also serve as an example of how we can honor our past, no matter how painful, and reflect on the challenges that are still with us today.”
"We almost never see images of Black people represented in our public monuments, or in the American telling of history," said Ralph Remington, San Francisco's Director of Cultural Affairs in a statement. "While the City examines the historic works in our Civic Art Collection and the future of monuments in San Francisco, this installation will help build and advance a discourse about who and what we venerate in our open spaces."