CNN host Don Lemon said Tuesday night that former President Barack Obama should be added “front and center” to Mount Rushmore with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
“If they’re going to put someone on Mount Rushmore, considering the history of this country, the first black president should be front and center,” Lemon told fellow CNN host Chris Cuomo.
“You see the right-wing machine kick in, media machine kick in when you see Trump’s poll numbers go south,” Lemon said on “Cuomo Prime Time.”
“They fall for it. And that’s why they do things like what they did. They want to paint over signs and they think it’s our country, ‘this is the country that we built.'”
He added: “Even though a rich diversity of people helped to build this country, and many of us, meaning our ancestors, for free — did not get paid for it, could not get an education, could not build wealth, are not on statues, Confederate or otherwise, are not on Mount Rushmore.”
He then said that Obama should be added to the national monument.
“Add to Mount Rushmore. I think that that’s, first of all, it’s a more salable idea than the idea of taking away Founding Fathers,” Cuomo said in response.
Lemon then asked what was wrong with “reshaping” the country and “rethinking our country in the way we think and where our priorities are so that this country belongs to everyone.”
“The name shouldn’t be Mount Rushmore if you talk to Native Americans. They say it is stolen land,” he said.
“It was only Mount Rushmore 40 years before they started to carve presidents’ faces in it and no one got any money for that.”
Lemon was reporting on the many Native American leaders who have spoken out about Mount Rushmore and have recently called for its removal.
“Nothing stands as a greater reminder to the Great Sioux Nation of a country that cannot keep a promise or treaty then the faces carved into our sacred land on what the United States calls Mount Rushmore,” Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier said in a statement late last month.
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“The United States of America wishes for all of us to be citizens and a family of their republic yet when they get bored of looking at those faces we are left looking at our molesters.”
The calls to remove statues and monuments across the country have been spurred by protests in response to the death of George Floyd on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for roughly nine minutes during an arrest.
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