Frederick Douglass Statue Unveiled in the Capitol

Ben Pershing, Washington Post, June 19, 2013

It is just over seven feet tall, a bronze, bearded figure with a determined gaze perched atop a three-foot marble pedestal.

The combined weight is 1,700 pounds, but the symbolic heft of the Frederick Douglass statue is much greater, as became clear Wednesday when the casting of the famed abolitionist and District advocate found its place inside the halls of Congress after years of delay and debate.

Before an audience that included Douglass’s descendants, national and local leaders and representatives of the many places he called home, the first statue chosen to represent the District was unveiled at a ceremony filled with pageantry in the Capitol Visitor Center’s Emancipation Hall.

{snip}

The 50 states have two statues apiece in the Capitol, but the District was granted only one because congressional Republicans objected to placing the city on equal footing with the states. {snip}

{snip}

“We know that a single statue is not enough. . . . It is incumbent on all of us to right this wrong of history and afford the District of Columbia the voice it deserves,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). Her fellow Democrats onstage applauded her remarks, while House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sat in silence.

The two Republicans also declined to clap when Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) declared that the District “deserves statehood” and said that he had signed on to co-sponsor statehood legislation. Vice President Biden did not mention statehood but said he and President Obama support “home rule, budget autonomy and a vote for the District of Columbia.”

Although Republicans avoided talk of the District’s plight, Boehner praised Douglass as “an example for humanity that is unmatched,” while McConnell called him a great “leader of the Republican Party.” (Biden also joked that Douglass was “one of my favorite Republicans.”)

{snip}

Douglass is the fourth African American to have a statue or bust in the halls of Congress, following the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Sojourner Truth. Reflecting the nation’s complicated past, Statuary Hall also includes Confederate heroes Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.

{snip}

Douglass was born a slave in 1818 in Talbot County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He spent part of his childhood and teenage years in Baltimore before escaping slavery to New York. Douglass lived in Rochester, N.Y., for more than two decades and moved to Washington in 1871.

Douglass was appointed U.S. marshal of the District in 1877 and then became the city’s recorder of deeds. {snip}

{snip}

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  • MekongDelta69

    I demand statues of Sharpton and Jackson to be erected along (what is now going to be ‘black row’).

    Btw, which one of the two in the picture is the statue?

    • me

      That statue looks very White….the features are Western European. Douglass was half White, but he looked more Negroid in real life.

  • The__Bobster

    “We know that a single statue is not enough. . . . It is incumbent on all of us to right this wrong of history and afford the District of Columbia the voice it deserves,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). Her fellow Democrats onstage applauded her remarks, while House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sat in silence.

    The two Republicans also declined to clap when Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) declared that the District “deserves statehood” and said that he had signed on to co-sponsor statehood legislation. Vice President Biden did not mention statehood but said he and President Obama support “home rule, budget autonomy and a vote for the District of Columbia.”

    Although Republicans avoided talk of the District’s plight, Boehner praised Douglass as “an example for humanity that is unmatched,” while McConnell called him a great “leader of the Republican Party.” (Biden also joked that Douglass was “one of my favorite Republicans.”)
    ___________

    Excuse me whilst I reach for my barf bag. it won’t be hard to figure out whom to put on the list for the time when the revolution comes.

  • bigone4u

    Pelosi and Reid have their fingers in every bit of mischief today. Too bad the 1700 pound statue didn’t “accidently” tip over on them and that silver haired idiot in the picture. Not that I would wish them harm, but karma would seem to dictate some sort of justice be meted out to these two.

  • bigone4u

    Might as well add the Kardashians to your list. In my worst nightmares, there’s a new reality show just a few years from now called “The Kardashians in the White House.”

  • bigone4u

    A new record for me–three comments taken down in one day. OK, I’ll try a kinder and gentler approach, a scholarly approach if you will. There is good news here. The two Confederates, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee are still in Congress. The bad news is for how long? The game of statues, street naming, park naming, paintings on walls, and school naming is being played out for all it’s worth by politicians. Is it so hard to envision a day in the not too distant future when Washington, D.C. is renamed because old George owned slaves? The statue of Douglass is not interesting to me in and of itself. It’s the strategy that’s behind it that must in the long-run be foiled lest the white legacy be lost.

  • What a Juneteenth is was …..

    Anybody have any ides how many major airports have been named for blacks?

    • bigone4u

      Blacks do their best flying when high on drugs. As far as anything I’ve ever read, blacks have not contributed to the aviation industry in any way, so no airports named for one except in Africa.

      • I know of:

        Atlanta
        Baltimore/Washington
        Detoilet

        New Orleans

        I wondered if anyone knew of any others.

  • IstvanIN

    St. Petersburg became Leningrad and then St. Petersburg again.

  • IstvanIN

    The King statue is Chinese and even gives him a vaguely Oriental look.

    • sbuffalonative

      Both of these points ticked off a few black. Also, that it wasn’t carved by a black man.

  • White Mom in WDC

    The District of Craptopia is a turd painted gold. Erect all the stupid statues of ‘important’ black people you want, the groids are still going to groid.

    Gnomesayin?

  • A Freespeechzone

    I’m more curious when the statues of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee will be removed because they represent the ‘racist’ South and Whites.

    I bet it’s just about a matter of time before that happens, given the ‘browning’ of America.

    • It won’t be long. It was probably in Sheila Jackson Lee’s bill for a Nation Juneteeth Independence Day holiday.

  • sbuffalonative

    More African juju.

    They think these totems are going to bestow power.

    They can erect as many statues as they want, nothing will change for blacks.

  • blight14

    What kind of *&^% gave you a down vote? Does Daryl Lamont Jenkum post on AR?

    • The__Bobster

      There’s a troll roaming the comments sections today, so there are a lot of single down votes.

  • blight14

    Hopefully the Che memorial is in the works……

  • dogbone

    Why is he a felon? Trying to escape slavery isn’t a crime in my book regardless of skin color. The white man is a slave of minorities. I have been trying to escape for almost 50 years.

    P.S. A statue of F.D. in Washington is idiotic. He did nothing for the U.S.

  • PesachPatriot

    I remember being assigned Mr. Douglass’s autobiography of an american slave when I was in school…it was a pretty interesting read….I have a lot more respect for Lincoln, Davis, Lee and Jackson, but compared to some modern day rappers and athletes like Tupac Shakur, Michael Vick, Ray Lewis, Lil Wayne or Nicki Minaj he is a pretty classy person who had to deal with far greater challenges and obstacles than most of the modern day welfare classes ever will and he did it while wearing a belt and speaking english correctly…..The irony of all this is that more people on this board know who he is than most hood residents in atlanta,birmingham, miami or nola, the average aspiring rapper will simply stare blankly at you and ask “who beez dis mfer frederick douglass? Learning or caring bout dead history dudes beez for whitey and asians”….I always like saying that if a certain vampire hunting president wasn’t on the 5 dollar bill they wouldn’t even know who freed them from slavery. I wonder if it will eventually be stolen and sold for scrap metal.

  • Yes Douglass was an idiot. What most American’s don’t even know is that Douglass was a run a way slave from a plantation in Maryland which was owned by a black family. Strange that that never gets in the history books. After his first wife died (she was black), Douglass went into a sort a mourning for a year that people that knew him believed it was a sham. After that year Douglass got a hold of his white secretary and forced her to marry him. He raped her. When he died of a massive heart attack in 1896, his wife jumped for joy, and quickly fled the liberal lifestyle that she was involved in. She hated Douglass because he was an immoral lying fool.