Contrary to a recent report, a University of Missouri Libraries spokeswoman said Thursday the removal of a poster of birth-control activist Margaret Sanger was not a response to an anti-abortion protest.
Mizzou Students for Life, an anti-abortion group, asked the library on Feb. 27 to remove the poster of Sanger. Sanger often is credited with opening the first birth control clinic in the United States and serving as the first president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
The poster was taken down last weekend, and in a local news report, the student-led organization took credit for the move.
On Thursday, Shannon Cary, communications officer for University Libraries, said the poster’s removal was not in response to the group’s petition.
It was part of the rotation of posters and displays in Ellis Library. Other posters also were taken down, including several nutrition posters and images of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, she said.
Poster’s removal requested
In the petition submitted late last month, the organization said they viewed Sanger as a supporter of “preventing the ‘working class’ from reproducing” and “targeting specific groups” for birth control and abortion.
“She targeted her birth- control movement toward people who she claimed were defective,” said the group’s public relations chair Ceci Haberdash, who spearheaded the campaign to have the poster removed.
“We just thought those values were really inconsistent with American principles. We live in a society where you should be allowed to have kids if you want to have kids.”
Haberdash said the organization had been working on the petition since the beginning of the semester after a member of the group brought the poster to their attention. After spending much of January and February researching Sanger’s viewpoints and reading her publications, the group decided to ask for the poster’s removal.
“While we did want the poster removed from the library, another goal we had for doing the petition was just educating people,” Haberdash said. “This opened up a conversation about Margaret Sanger’s eugenic motivations behind her birth- control movement, and if we would’ve had to educate the entire student body on this before the poster was removed, we were fully prepared to do so.”
The group sent their petition to library officials on Feb. 27, Haberdash said. They received an email reply from Cary last Friday saying that the library supports free speech and equality and would not remove the posters.
Cary also said in her email there were plans to remove and replace posters throughout the libraries in the coming months, and the poster of Sanger would likely be removed at the end of the semester. She did not specify exactly when the posters would be removed.
The following Tuesday, Haberdash said she noticed the poster was gone from the hallway, along with two other posters in the display depicting civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
That was not a response to the group’s petition, Cary said. It was part of the regular rotation of posters and displays in Ellis Library.
“We’re in the process of a more long-term plan for posters and not keeping things up as long and rotating things in and out, maybe yearly — we’re not sure, we’re still deciding that,” Cary said.
Last Sunday, Haberdash said she received another email in the original email chain concerning the petition, in which someone asked, “So can I have these posters put back up?”
Although she didn’t write this email, Cary said it was probably confusion because the posters had not been replaced.
“Facilities is in charge of when the posters are taken down,” she said.
The library has a group of posters of famous authors that will most likely replace the posters of Sanger, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., Cary said.
Supervising editors are Jeanne Abbott and Gary Garrison.