Statue Honoring Enslaved Black Member of Lewis & Clark Expedition Defaced in Oregon

A bust of York, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, is seen on Mount Tabor in southeast Portland, Ore., on Sunday Feb. 21, 2021. The statue appeared the day before. (Mark Graves/The Oregonian via AP)

A statue commemorating York, an enslaved Black member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was defaced this week in Portland, Oregon.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that while the bust itself was unmarked, symbols and words, including “love not hate,” were spray-painted in purple lettering onto the gray pedestal underneath. A plaque describing York had also been spray-painted over and then removed, leaving behind a blank square framed in purple.

The bust mysteriously appeared in February on a pedestal in a park in Southeast Portland where a statue of Harvey Scott, a well-known conservative and longtime editor of The Oregonian who opposed women’s suffrage, stood until it was torn down. It still isn’t clear who created or placed the bust of York.

After the Lewis and Clark Expedition was over, everyone but York was rewarded with money and land. York demanded freedom as a reward for his services on the expedition, Historian Stephn Ambrose wrote. But Clark refused.

Clark later claimed to a friend that he’d freed York. Historians haven’t been able to verify that.

SOURCE: The Associated Press

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