City Commission Moving Forward With Review Of Stephen Foster Statue

Sep 7, 2017

A statue of Stephen Foster in Schenley Plaza depicts the composer and a slave.
Credit PIOTRUS / Wikimedia Commons

The City of Pittsburgh’s Art Commission is moving forward with its process of reviewing a controversial statue of the composer Stephen Foster.

The statue, located in Schenley Plaza, depicts a barefoot enslaved black man in tattered clothes playing a banjo beneath the immaculately dressed Foster, who holds a parchment.

Beginning Friday, the commission’s website will host a comment section on the matter. There, the public can provide written testimony up to 500 words and voice opinions about the potential removal, relocation or alteration of the city-owned sculpture.

A special hearing will be held October 4 at 200 Ross Street, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. After a presentation by city archivist Nick Hartley on the statue, the public will be invited to provide verbal testimony.

On October 25, the commission will hear additional public testimony before issuing a final report and recommendations regarding the placement of the statue.

City officials have said a review of the statue began before racially driven violence in Charlottesville in August ignited national criticism over statues seen as racist, and Mayor Bill Peduto said he personally believes that the statue should be moved. A University of Pittsburgh committee of faculty and students have been reviewing the Foster statue for more than a year, and an online petition to move the statue from Schenley Plaza and place it somewhere with greater historical context has gathered more than 1,300 signatures since August.