STATUE DEDICATION CEREMONY FOR
UNITED STATES CAPITOL BUILDING
JUNE 19, 2013 | 11 AM ET
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House Speaker John Boehner and a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders will dedicate a statue of the late Frederick Douglass at a ceremony on Wednesday, June 19 in Emancipation Hall of the United States Capitol Visitor Center. The statue is a gift from the District of Columbia and its more than 600,000 residents.
Frederick Douglass - widely considered to be the father of the civil rights movement - led the fight for equality, advised President Abraham Lincoln, and was a powerful voice for women’s rights.
A SELF-TAUGHT SLAVE
In February 1818, Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born a slave in Tuckahoe, Maryland. After his mother died in 1826, he was sent to Baltimore to live with the Auld family. Mrs. Auld began to teach Frederick the alphabet and how to read until she was told to stop. Working at a shipyard, Frederick secretly taught himself how to read and write, and learned about the abolitionist movement through newspaper articles. He was beaten for trying to teach other slaves how to read. After an unsuccessful attempt to escape in 1836, he finally escaped from slavery to New York at the age of 20.
FATHER OF THE CIVIL
A free man, Douglass soon became one of the most powerful voices for freedom and human equality. He worked with the Underground Railroad, wrote numerous articles and delivered countless speeches for abolition, and founded anti-slavery newspaper, The North Star. Douglass fought the exclusion of black soldiers from the Union Army and later recruited African Americans to serve – including his two sons who joined the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. Douglass has inspired generations of leaders, including those behind the modern civil rights movement. His forceful appeals for freedom and color-blind equality are a beacon for all time.
This portrait of President Lincoln hangs in the West Parlor of Cedar Hill, Douglass’ home in Washington, DC from 1878 until his death in 1895.
SEE MORE PHOTOS
Frederick Douglass became a valued advisor and trusted friend of President Lincoln’s. In their first meeting at the White House in 1863, Douglass shared his account of the Civil War and its effect on African Americans. He raised the problems of unequal pay, discriminatory treatment, and lack of promotions for black soldiers serving heroically in the Union Army. And he thanked the president for his “Order of Retaliation” aimed at stopping Confederate abuses of African American prisoners. These meetings continued over the years, evolving into an unprecedented friendship between a president and a once-enslaved African American that lasted until Lincoln’s death.
POWERFUL VOICE FOR
In addition to his fight against slavery, Douglass was a vocal supporter of the women’s rights movement. He was the only African American to attend the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention in American history. He was a signatory to the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, after fighting to have women’s suffrage included in the document. The motto of his newspaper, The North Star, was: “Right is of no Sex - Truth is of no Color.” Douglass died in February 1895, immediately following a Woman's Council meeting where he received a standing ovation by those in attendance.
“In a composite nation like ours, as before the law, there should be no rich, no poor, no high, no low, no white, no black, but common country, common citizenship, equal rights and a common destiny.”
- Frederick Douglass, 1852
The seven-foot bronze statue was sculpted by Steve Weitzman of Maryland and depicts Frederick Douglass in his fifties as an orator and writer. Douglass is mid-speech, leaning on a lectern equipped with inkwell and quill pen, clutching papers in his right hand.
Frederick Douglass will be the fourth African American to be represented in the Capitol’s art collection, joining a statue of Rosa Parks and busts of Martin Luther King Jr. and Sojourner Truth. His statue will be on permanent display for all to see in Emancipation Hall of the United States Capitol Visitors Center.
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JUNE 19, 2013