Rebel Queen: Two Black Female Artists Created Denmark’s First Public Statue Of A Black Woman

Paula Rogo Apr, 02, 2018

Denmark hit a new milestone this weekend!

The Nordic country debuted a statue on Saturday inspired by a 19th-century slave from St. Croix — making it the first public monument to a Black woman.

 I Am Queen Mary is inspired by Mary Thomas, who led an anti-slavery revolt in the island of St. Croix in the 1800s. Thomas unleashed an uprising in 1878 called the “Fireburn,” the New York Times reports.

Created by two Black female artists, Danish Jeannette Ehlers and Virgin Islander La Vaughn Belle, the monument is a chance for Denmark to confront its colonial past in the Caribbean. 

“This project is the first collaborative sculpture to memorialize Denmark’s colonial impact in the Caribbean and those who fought against it,” the artists said on the monument’s website.

Denmark was an active participant in the transatlantic slave trade and greatly benefitted from it. It remained a colonial power in the Caribbean for almost three centuries until 1917 when it sold what is now the Virgin Islands.

“It takes a statue like this to make forgetting less easy. It takes a monument like this to fight against the silence, neglect, repression and hatred,” Henrik Holm, senior research curator at the National Gallery of Denmark, said in a statement.

Thomas went on trial for her role in the rebellion and ended up in a Copenhagen jail, just over a mile from where her statue now stands in front of a former warehouse for Caribbean sugar and rum.
 

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