Design a site like this with
Get started

‘Mothers of Gynecology’ monument exposes horrors of slavery

By Monica Moorehead 

A righteous tidal wave of anger followed people seeing the nine-minutes-plus videotaped police lynching of George Floyd in Minneapolis late May 2020. Racist monuments glorifying the slave-owning Confederacy came tumbling down, especially in the Deep South. These acts to take down the statues were part of historic mass protests that swept the country during the summer of 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The enslaved Black “Mothers of Gynecology” are now honored in this memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.

Two years earlier the monument paying homage to J. Marion Sims, once praised as the “father of modern gynecology,” was removed from Central Park in New York City, following many years of protest.

What led to the removal was a growing understanding and anger that Sims, a 19th century gynecologist in Montgomery, Alabama, used enslaved Black women as guinea pigs, experimenting on them with new medical techniques without using anesthesia or obtaining their consent. His techniques resulted in unspeakable torture.

Sims believed that Black women did not experience the same kind of pain as white human beings. Black people were nothing more than chattel to Sims and his ilk, who viewed them as less than human and actually treated them worse than animals. This was the prevailing view of enslavers in the South and even in some regions of the North.

Black women during this period were denied the right to control their own reproductive systems and destinies, starting when they were adolescents. This is horribly similar to the recent case of the 10-year-old girl from Ohio, raped twice, impregnated, and in order to receive an abortion, was forced to travel to Indiana, because of the fascistic anti-abortion law in Ohio. The doctor who performed that abortion is now being threatened with prosecution by the attorney general of Indiana, using a legal technicality to harass and punish her.

Treated as property, enslaved Black girls and women were systematically raped and sexually assaulted by white plantation owners and treated as “breeders” to produce more enslaved people. The enslaved grandmother of the great Mississippi activist, Fannie Lou Hamer, was forced to give birth 21 times as a result of this barbaric treatment.

Honoring those who resisted

In Montgomery where Sims first performed his horrific experiments, a stunning new monument was unveiled Sept. 24, 2021. “Mothers of Gynecology” includes figures representing Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey, three of the 11 enslaved women who were unwilling participants in Sims’ depraved procedures. Anarcha was reportedly pregnant at age 17 during this time.

The statues, located at the More Up Campus, are almost 15 feet high and were created by local Montgomery artist and activist Michelle Browder. The campus is dedicated to changing how history is remembered, “by finding creative ways to honor the voiceless, the minimized, the ignored.” (

Browder says of her motives, “The endeavor is to change the narrative as it relates to the history and how it’s portrayed, regarding Sims and the women [who] were used as experiments. They’re not mentioned in any of the iconography or the information, the markers.

“No one talks about these women and their sacrifices and the experimentations that they suffered,” Browder said. “And so I feel that if you’re going to tell the truth about this history, we need to tell it all.

“There’s more to this history than Dr. King and Rosa Parks, and the Confederacy.” (, Sept. 27, 2021)

The monument is a gut-wrenching reminder of the strategic role that slavery played in establishing the U.S. as the most powerful imperialist country in the world, through the ongoing systematic and systemic repression of Black people as an oppressed nation.

As every Confederate monument comes tumbling down, new monuments should eventually take their place, honoring those who gave their life’s blood to resist and destroy the monstrous institution of white supremacy.

Besides the legendary heroes Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey,

Gabriel Prosser, Osborne P. Anderson and John Brown, now in Montgomery the less-well-known heroes are honored — Lucy, Anarcha and Betsey.



Don’t let anyone tell you the calendar has just one holiday celebrating a Black man. There’s two: Martin Luther King Day and Christmas. Yes, my sisters and brothers, we cannot forget that Jesus Christ, the most celebrated, most famous, most moral man in Western history — the person at the center of Christmas — was a Black man. His hair was like pure wool, according to the Book of Daniel. That means his hair was kinky. The Book of Revelations says his feet were like burnished bronze. That means he was brown-skinned. Jesus was a Palestinian Jewish man who, as a child was able to hide from the King of Judaea by spending years in Egypt. So he looked like an Egyptians. Sounds like a brother to me. Joan Taylor, author of What Did Jesus Look Like, says he resembled modern Iraqis with dark brown hair and olive brown skin. The evidence mounts — Jesus looked more like me or Lenny Kravitz, and not much like the blonde-haired, blue-eyes surfer dude he’s routinely portrayed as now. And we know precisely why his image was changed.

The appropriation of Jesus’ image is one of the biggest intellectual thefts of history, and it begins around the 4th century AD when followers of Christianity began painting images of Jesus based on Greek and Roman Gods as a way of bringing in new followers. It was marketing, but it had a deadly impact because the second greatest trick white supremacy ever played was making us believe that the man of the century was a beatified Ken doll, and not an original soul brother. (White supremacy’s #1 greatest trick was making us think we were inferior to them when we are definitely not, but I digress.) This shift in Jesus’s look matters because imagery matters. When we see people who we identify with in positions of power or beauty, then we know for certain that we can attain that status. We feel affirmed. Living in a world where millions of Christians worship a blonde-haired, blue-eyed son of God only puts blonde hair and blue eyes on a higher pedestal. It allows whiteness to think even more of itself. But we know the truth — that image is a lie. Jesus was Black.

Even more than Jesus’s look, we know that Jesus was a brother from the way he lived and died. He was not from the dominant group. He was a revolutionary, a radical born into poverty and barred from entering certain spaces. He was on the run from the man throughout his life — as a child he had to escape his home country in order to dodge being killed by the man (aka the King). He spent much of his life oppressed and on the run from the authorities who spied on Him and chased after Him — yet He still found time to drop knowledge and drink wine with His friends. His end begins with Him getting snitched on. He’s wrongfully arrested and then, in front of a crowd, He’s lynched. That definitely sounds like a brother to me. The oppression Jesus battles throughout His life, and His constant mistreatment by a government that’s so afraid of Him that it puts Him to death — all of that positions Him as an outsider. Jesus’ story is reminiscent of the Black experience, where the state functions as an oppressive force, damaging your life when you try to change the world — think of Dr. King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and on and on. When you speak out you get snuffed out. But, like so many who die tragically in the ‘hood he ended up with the ultimate mural: His image painted across the globe. And yet, nowadays, despite living that Black life, Jesus looks like the face of white supremacy.

And imagery matters. So, if this Christmas, you are looking to have an image of the baby Jesus or a grown up Jesus on your tree (or beneath it), get yourself a Black looking Jesus. You deserve to see Jesus as the beautiful Black man that he was. You deserve to see the true revolutionary who came from nothing and became brilliant, powerful, beloved, feared — and, eventually, permanent. One of the greatest people ever, a person who told us how to live right, would surely not counsel us to steal. When Christian leaders at any level traffic in images of that surfer-dude Jesus, they are trafficking in dishonesty, in stolen imagery, and in the perpetuation of white supremacy. You don’t need to bring that lie into your home.