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Art commission wants ‘Oh! Susanna’ songwriter’s statue gone

October 26, 2017

The bronze sculpture of Pittsburgh-born songwriter Stephen Foster by Giuseppe Moretti, stands near the entrance of the Carnegie Music Hall at Schenley Plaza in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. The Pittsburgh Art Commission voted on Wednesday, to recommend removing the 117-year-old statue of the "Oh! Susanna" songwriter that has been criticized as demeaning because it includes a slave sitting at his feet, plucking a banjo. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Art Commission has voted to recommend removing a 117-year-old statue of the “Oh! Susanna” songwriter that has been criticized as demeaning because it includes a slave sitting at his feet, plucking a banjo.

The commission wants the city to remove the statue of Pittsburgh native son Stephen Foster at Schenley Park within six months and find a new spot where it can be displayed on private property and “properly contextualized.”

Foster died in 1864. His songs also include “Camptown Races.”

Critics say the statue is offensive, but others say it merely shows that Foster was inspired by black spirituals and other music.

The recommendation is nonbinding but is expected to guide Democratic Mayor Bill Peduto, who asked for input on what to do with the statue.

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