Beyond Sims: A Community Conversation

Beyond Sims: A Community ConversationThe Committee to Empower Voices for Healing and Equity Presents: BEYOND SIMS
Saturday, October 20th from 1 – 3:30pm
New York Academy of Medicine
1216 5th Avenue @ 103rd Street
FREE I All Ages. Light Refreshments Will Be Served

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

After decades of activism , the City relocated the statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims on Central Park East on April 17, 2018. Join us for an inter-generational community program with performances and artful discussion to envision a future beyond the painful legacy of Sims. The conversation will be grounded in an historical and emotional understanding of the legacy of Dr. Sims in terms of slavery, reproductive justice , health equity, and racial justice and aim to move us towards a vision for the future where we all have access to care and autonomy over our own bodies. What do we want to see that moves this moment forward? Your input at this event, along with that from surrounding communities , will help to inspire the artist who will be chosen to design an artwork in the former site of Sims. Make your voice heard.

Ebony Noelle Golden, Moderator
American Slavery Project, A Theatrical Response
Black Gotham Experience. Performance

The New York Academy of Medicine is accessible via ramp at its 103rd Street entrance, and includes interior elevators and accessible restrooms. To request additional information or accommodations, please contact NYAM’s Education & Conference Center at ecc@nyam.org or call 212.822.7276.

For questions please contact Padmore John atjpadmor1@health.nyc.gov.

BACKGROUND

On Tuesday April 17th, 2018, the New York City’s Public Design Commission (PDC), convened by Mayor DeBlasio to review statues around NYC, made the momentous decision to remove the statue of J. Marion Sims from its pedestal overlooking East Harlem on the outskirts of Central Park.  The decision was not an easy one and was preceded by many years of protests, awareness campaigns and other activities to draw attention to this issue.  Although the decision was ultimately made by the PDC, the impetus behind this motivation was a collection of residents and community based organizations (CBOs).  J. Marion Sims gained fame in Western medicine for his experiments on African-American female slaves on whom he perfected invasive gynecological procedures without obtaining consent or providing anesthesia.  It is important to note well-documented contemporaneous, dignity-preserving practices of gynecological procedures elsewhere in the world that not only anesthetized patients and minimized bleeding, but also promoted wound healing.

Steadfast in their duty to make this injustice visible, these CBOs, such as the Coalition to Remove the Dr. J. Marion Sims Statue, the East Harlem Preservation, and the Black Youth Project 100, maintained a steady drumbeat of agitation that served to amplify community power around a common goal, with other groups including Community Board 11, and cultural institutions, El Museo Del Barrio, The New York Academy of Medicine, and the Museum of the City of New York lending their support to raise awareness to this issue.

With decades of psychological trauma inflicted on the community being tormented by an image that represented the ill treatment of women, the time for healing and reconciliation has come.  To that end, these organizations and concerned residents have created a coalition with three city agencies – Parks Department, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA).  This coalition, called the Committee to Empower Voices for Healing and Equity, was formed in June of 2018.

The Committee’s immediate goal is to erect a replacement artwork by December 2020, while simultaneously informing the community about the process and facilitating community-engaging activities to ensure their voices are included in the process.  The Committee also plans to host programs that support healing and address trauma around the legacy caused by J. Marion Sims.  The coalition will create and suggest opportunities whereby residents of East Harlem, our community at large—including both NYC residents and those outside of NYC—will be afforded the opportunity to make suggestions as to types of artwork that would be best suitable as a replacement.  Our work aligns with DCLA’s public artist selection process timeline.

The first event will be held on Saturday, October 20th, 2018 from 1:00 to 3:30pm at The New York Academy of Medicine, located at 1216 Fifth Ave (at 103rd Street), New York, NY 10029.  This event will provide residents and participants an opportunity to make recommendations of ideas and themes that they would like to see incorporated into replacement art.  For further information please contact: culturalevents@nyam.org.

Steering Committee represented Organizations:

  • El Museo del Barrio
  • The New York Academy of Medicine
  • Community Board 11
  • Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100)
  • NYC Parks Department
  • NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
  • Coalition to Remove the Dr. Sims Statue
  • Councilmember Diana Ayala’s Office
  • Museum of the City of New York
  • East Harlem Preservation