• Commission votes to take Stephen Foster statue down

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    PITTSBURGH - "Oh Susanna" is a well-known song written by the Pittsburgh composer Stephen Foster.

    A statue memorializes him in Oakland, but soon, it will come down.

    The statue has been debated for years, with many people upset over the depiction of a minstrel-performer sitting at Foster's feet.

    RELATED STORY: Fate of Stephen Foster statue remains uncertain

    The 10-foot bronze statue has been on display for 117 years.

    "I think it's a gross miscarriage of justice," James Wudarczrk of Bloomfield said.

    Wednesday night, Pittsburgh's art commission unanimously voted to take down the statue of Foster sitting above a black slave.


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    "It's a depiction of an African American in a very demeaning position, ragged, toothless, strumming a banjo," said Brittany Felder, who supported the removal. "It's not something that represents the city and belongs in a public space."

    Critics have called for its removal for the last three decades, but the controversy returned this summer after a deadly protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the removal of a Confederate statue and others around the country.

    The art commission took public comment on the Foster statue last month, resulting in Wednesday night's decision.

    "We have a limited number of options, based on that, that was the discussion and decision," said Rob Indovina, art commission chair.

    "I think if they destroy it or put it in a crate somewhere, we're destroying a piece of our heritage," Wudarczrk said.

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    It's still not clear where the statue will go.

    The commission says the Public Works Department has six months to remove the statue and a new location must be chosen with a year.


     

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