Frederick Douglass Statue to be Erected in U.S. Capitol

The addition of Douglass' likeness will boost the Capitol's African-American figure count and give D.C. some cred among the states already represented.

Posted: 09/12/2012 02:17 PM EDT
Frederick Douglass

A statue of Frederick Douglass will be doing double duty when it is erected in the U.S. Capitol building soon.

Members of the House of Representatives voted to add Douglass to the U.S. Capitol’s collection of statues and busts of notable figures earlier this week. If approved by the Senate as expected, the bronze likeness of the famous African-American abolitionist and D.C. resident will be the third African-American statue to reside in the Capitol and the very first to represent the District of Columbia – the state that’s not actually a state.

"I’m afraid that too many young people today don’t know the story of Frederick Douglass,’’ Rep. Dan Lungren, chairman of the Committee on House Administration, said Monday.

While there is hope that a statue will raise the historical profile of the former slave, some D.C. residents hope that his addition to the Capitol’s cast of notables will also raise support for D.C.’s ongoing bid to be allowed a vote in Congress.

“For the residents of the District, Douglass was first and foremost a D.C. resident, the first Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia, and a distinguished Republican,”  D.C.’s non-voting Congressional representative Eleanor Holmes Norton said in a statement. “He is now one step closer to being honored with a statue in Emancipation Hall in the U.S. Capitol, a statue that has been on display at One Judiciary Square.”

For years, D.C. residents have pushed to be recognized as a state. Residents must pay federal taxes and may vote for president but are not afforded voting representation in the House and have no representation at all in the Senate.

Douglass’ statue will join that of Martin Luther King Jr. and Sojourner Truth; the only other African-Americans represented.

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(Photo: Courtesy of The LA Times/ Weitzman Studios)

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