A statue of Frederick Douglass, orator, writer, abolitionist, and advocate for equality of all people, will move from the atrium of a government office building to Capitol Hill’s Emancipation Hall to represent the District if Colombia.
Douglass will be one of three African-Americans represented in that hall, including busts of Sojourner Truth and Martin Luther King Jr.
Also, it will be the first statue to represent the city.
The Emancipation Hall holds two statues for each state. Statues of notable people that the state can call their own. Washington D.C. is not a state and therefore is not represented.
The federal capital, created in 1791, has long been struggling for recognition with Congress, which still oversees the city’s budget. It was not until 1961 that residents were allowed to vote in the presidential election.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the district in Congress, told the Kansas City Star what might seem like a “little thing” was actually a major step for Washington D.C.’s residents.
“For us, it’s a great triumph,” said Norton, who represents the city in the House of Representatives but has limited voting privileges. “It means a great deal to the residents.”
“We’re delighted that the president has signed the legislation, and are proud that our statue of Frederick Douglass will finally have a place in the Capitol,” Washington Mayor Vincent Gray said recently. “While we’re thankful for this victory, our larger quest to secure the same rights that our fellow citizens across the country enjoy will continue.”
Douglass will not be the only change to come to the Emancipation Hall.
A new law, passed in 2000, allows states to substitute their current statues for more diverse and contemporary figures.