Sculpture of escaping slave vandalized, left defaced with BLM graffiti
Members of a congregation in Indiana are taking extra measures to protect their church after a statue an African-American woman who escaped slavery in the 19th century was defaced last week.
A statue memorializing Lucy Higgs Nichols, a former slave who escaped a life of captivity and became a nurse for the Union Army during the Civil War, was vandalized at the Second Baptist Church in New Albany — just north of Louisville, Kentucky, across the Ohio River.
The statue depicts the former slave escaping captivity with her infant daughter.
WAVE-TV reported the monument was vandalized Friday by someone who wrote “BLM,” an apparent reference to the Black Lives Matter movement, in red spray paint.
Other graffiti was spray-painted on the statue as well:
Second Baptist Church Pastor LeRoy Marshall told WAVE that the almost 170-year-old house of worship was once viewed as a sanctuary of sorts for escaped slaves who were able to make it across the river to freedom.
Marshall also said members of his church, which WAVE reported has a majority black congregation, are upset that the statue was defaced.
“This, this whole situation was really depressing for a lot of our church members,” Marshall told the outlet.
“This is a slap in the face to everybody.”
The Second Baptist Church — which was part of the Underground Railroad, according to the Jeffersonville-based News and Tribune newspaper — has taken measures to restore the statue, including enlisting the monument’s creator to chisel away some of the paint as a temporary solution.
This past weekend, a statue of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass was toppled in Rochester, New York.
Nichols, while not as well known as Douglas, was an important figure in the movement to abolish slavery.
According to the Indiana Historical Bureau, she was born a slave in Tennessee in 1838.
In 1862, during the Civil War, the former slave escaped and joined the 23rd Regiment, Indiana Volunteers as a nurse, where she treated wounded soldiers until the conclusion of the war in 1865.