The statue of a doctor who experimented on enslaved women still stands in Alabama. But now there’s also a monument to his victims.
By Linda Matchan October 2, 2021 at 6:00 a.m. EDT
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Michelle Browder is a Black artist and activist who runs a civil rights tour company called More Than Tours — so named, she says, because "it's an experience." A sobering experience: stops include historical lynching sites, the city’s former slave market and the old Greyhound Bus Station where 21 young Freedom Riders were viciously beaten by an angry mob in 1961. Still, no historic site on the tour riles Browder as much as a statue on the lawn of the Alabama State House. Not the one honoring Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy and defender of slavery. It’s the one across the lawn, commemorating a 19th-century physician most people have never heard of: J. Marion Sims, the so-called “father of modern gynecology.” “Having to recount the history is bad enough,” explained Browder, who said her heart races every time she swings her tour bus past it. “But having to see the iconography is triggering for someone like me who knows the truth about what happened.”