Statue of black inventor to stay downtown

Statue of black inventor to stay downtown
Statue of black inventor to stay downtown
Statue of black inventor to stay downtown

BRIDGEPORT - Facing pressure from black leaders, Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration has decided a statue of a prominent 19th century African-American inventor from the city’s South End will stay put in front of the downtown Margaret E. Morton government center.

The “light unto the world” references both Latimer’s story and the statue, commissioned in 2015. The son of slaves, Latimer, according to a brief biography on the public library’s website, is considered by some to be “the actual inventor of the modern light bulb” rather than Thomas Edison.

And the statue features Latimer holding up a light bulb.

“Lewis Latimer is one of Bridgeport’s most prominent global citizens and we are extremely proud to honor him in front of our government center,” said Ganim. “(The statue) should remain standing proudly in front of the Margaret Morton building as an inspiration to all who see it and as a reminder of everything Bridgeport can be.”

As previously reported, Ganim’s administration had proposed relocating Latimer’s bronze likeness to the University of Bridgeport campus in the South End. City officials blamed the move on how ex-Mayor Bill Finch paid for the statue with $66,000 out of a $1 million state grant intended for streetscape improvements.

They said that the statue should at the least be relocated to a neighborhood that the grant money was intended for, and the South End made the most sense because Latimer had lived there. UB was chosen because it was a secure spot and the university would maintain the statue.

There was some speculation the motive had more to do with taking a shot at Finch, whom Ganim ousted in a bitter 2015 Democratic primary. Finch’s name is prominently displayed on the statue’s granite base. And Ganim has also been trying to improve relations between City Hall and UB after Finch’s one-sided feud with the academic institution.

But black leaders like state Sen. Marilyn Moore, George Mintz, head of the NAACP and of the annual Juneteenth abolition of slavery celebration, and members of the City Council protested the relocation.

They told Hearst Connecticut Media earlier this week that the government center was a more prominent spot, particularly since it has been renamed to honor the late Margaret E. Morton - the first black member of the state House of Representatives.

Critics of sending Latimer to UB also feared the statue might be damaged in the move.

Susan Clinard, the New Haven artist who sculpted Latimer, in an interview last month said, “The base is one ton and the sculpture itself is probably only about 350 pounds. But it’s drilled and anchored in with these pins. It has to be done professionally or it can crack the granite base. … Statues aren’t really supposed to be moved once in.”

Councilwoman M. Evette Brantley said she was happy city officials had changed their minds. She said the proposal never should have gotten as far as it did.

“Whose hair-brained idea was that?” Brantley said. “All of a sudden they’re creating all these reasons why they want to move it.

BRIDGEPORT - Facing pressure from black leaders, Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration has decided a statue of a prominent 19th Century African American inventor from the city’s South End will stay put in front of the downtown Margaret E. Morton government center.

“Lewis Latimer is a significant inventor in world history, and he is a proud symbol of everything Bridgeport strives to be: hard working, creative, brilliant, and a light unto the world,” said Ganim in a statement.

The “light unto the world” references both Latimer’s story and the statue, commissioned in 2015. The son of slaves, Latimer, according to a brief biography on the public library’s website, is considered by some to be “the actual inventor of the modern light bulb” rather than Thomas Edison.

And the statue features Latimer holding up a light bulb.

“Lewis Latimer is one of Bridgeport’s most prominent global citizens and we are extremely proud to honor him in front of our government center,” said Ganim. “(The statue) should remain standing proudly in front of the Margaret Morton building as an inspiration to all who see it and as a reminder of everything Bridgeport can be.”

As previously reported, Ganim’s administration had proposed relocating Latimer’s bronze likeness to the University of Bridgeport campus in the South End. City officials blamed the move on how ex-Mayor Bill Finch paid for the statue with $66,000 out of a $1 million state grant intended for streetscape improvements.

But black leaders like state Sen. Marilyn Moore, George Mintz, head of the NAACP and of the annual Juneteenth abolition of slavery celebration, and members of the City Council protested the relocation.

They told Hearst Connecticut Media earlier this week that the government center was a more prominent spot, particularly since it has been renamed to honor the late Margaret E. Morton - the first black member of the state House of Representatives.

Critics of sending Latimer to UB also feared the statue might be damaged in the move.

Susan Clinard, the New Haven artist who sculpted Latimer, in an interview last month said, “The base is one ton and the sculpture itself is probably only about 350 pounds. But it’s drilled and anchored in with these pins. It has to be done professionally or it can crack the granite base. … Statues aren’t really supposed to be moved once in.”

Councilwoman M. Evette Brantley said she was happy city officials had changed their minds. She said the proposal never should have gotten as far as it did.

“Whose hair-brained idea was that?” Brantley said. “All of a sudden they’re creating all these reasons why they want to move it.”

0
Comments
Your comment...