District of Columbia to get statue in Capitol, but not in Statuary Hall
September 14th, 2012
11:43 AM ET
2 years ago

District of Columbia to get statue in Capitol, but not in Statuary Hall

 

Washington (CNN) – The District of Columbia received more representation in the halls of Congress this week. Only problem: this representative is bronze, not breathing and honors someone dead for over 100 years.

Legislation passed this week by both the House (by voice vote) and the Senate (by unanimous consent) will allow the District of Columbia to submit the statue of Fredrick Douglass, a notable abolitionist and resident of Washington, D.C., to "a suitable location in the Capitol."

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It will not, however, include the Douglass statue in the Statuary Hall collection, a desire that many who had pushed for Douglass' inclusion had hoped for.

The Statuary Hall collection is a group of 100 statues, two from each state, and includes some of American's most notable luminaries. There are the obvious – George Washington from Virginia, Ronald Reagan from California – and the not so obvious – Father Damien from Hawaii, Sarah Winnemucca from Nevada.

At no point does the bill mention Statuary Hall – instead it suggests a "permanent location in the Capitol" within two years of passage. A press release by Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the sponsor of the legislation, says the statue will be placed in Emancipation Hall, an area not actually in the U.S. Capitol but instead in the Capitol Visitors Center.

For decades, the residents of the district have called for more representation in the halls of Congress, where D.C. currently has one non-voting member of the House, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and no representation in the Senate.

Even though Congress' decision does not increase the influence that Washington, D.C. has in Congress, one local political expert says that symbols matter and Douglass' inclusion is a symbolic victory.

"We have to take what we can get," said Mark Plotkin, a district political expert. "The Congress has turned down every attempt to assert our own autonomous identity. I think this is most significant because it actually acknowledges that 618,000 people live here."

The fight to get district representation in Statuary Hall first started in 2002, when Norton, the non-voting member from D.C., introduced a bill that would allow two statues for the district in Statuary Hall.

Douglass' statue was first commissioned by the D.C. government in 2007 for the price of $200,000. When neither was placed in Statuary Hall after completion, as city government had hoped, they were displayed in a government building just a few short blocks from the Capitol.

When the statue does move into the Capitol, it will become the third statue of an African-American to be displayed in the building. The other two: a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. and a bust of Sojourner Truth.

Schumer, the bill's sponsor, says the legislation has been sent to President Barack Obama and now awaits his signature.


Filed under: Congress
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    DC needs to have a say in Congress. There should be a voting representative to show how the nation's capital what those people need.

    September 14, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. bb

    Golly great news the house and senate finally did something. We getting our emabssys over run, ambassadors killed,
    our pres is partying with jay – z and now the parties get this done God help us

    September 14, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. HOLY TIGHTY WHITIES WILLARD

    It's ashamed that D.C. is the only state in the Union that has Taxation Without Representation. I'm honored to see that Frederick Douglass has a statue in Congress, but it doesn't take away from the fact that Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton doesn't have vote.

    September 14, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair

    HOLY TIGHTY WHITIES WILLARD

    It's ashamed that D.C. is the only state in the Union that has Taxation Without Representation.
    ------
    DC is NOT a state. Nor is Guam, Puerto Rico, The American Virgin Islands, the Marianas, Samoa, etc.

    September 14, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. HOLY TIGHTY WHITIES WILLARD

    Excuse me Fair. It's a "place." A "Place" that has no representation when they have a population of about a million people.

    September 14, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    "It's ashamed that D.C. is the only state in the Union that has Taxation Without Representation."

    DC is NOT a state. Nor is Guam, Puerto Rico, The American Virgin Islands, the Marianas, Samoa, etc
    -----------------------
    True. But, it is members of Congress, which the citizens of DC did not vote for, that set many policies in DC, including taxes.

    September 14, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    More wasted taxpayers dollars - Thanks republican House of representatives. NOT

    September 14, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Travis

    @ GI Joe
    "More wasted taxpayers dollars – Thanks republican House of representatives. NOT"

    The second paragraph starts by saying "Legislation passed this week by both the House (by voice vote) and the Senate (by unanimous consent)..." so you have both the house and senate to thank for wasting taxpayer dollars.

    September 14, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. STANTON

    Talk about liar's Romney you Republican Criminal's know all about it don't you DUBYU'S WAR THAT WAS A LIE THAT MURDERED OVER 100,000 PEOPLE AND CRIPPLED 30,000 MORE THAT LEFT BODY PARTS AND WHAT WAS LEFT OF THEIR SANITY IN IRAQ THANK'S TO YOU REPUBLICAN LIARS AND THAT'S JUST THE BEGINING!!!! THAT WAR COST TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS THAT DUBYUH PAID FOR BY GIVING CHINA ALL THE GOOD PAYING JOB'S TO PAY FOR IT AND HIS TAX CUT'S FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU YOU ARE THE LIAR ROMNEY& SO IS RYAN YOUR PARTNER!!!!!

    September 14, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  10. stanton

    moderation you mean censorship don't you???

    September 14, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |