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House Approves Move Of Frederick Douglass Statue To U.S. Capitol

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The statue of Douglass has sat in the lobby of a D.C. government building since 2007.
John Muller
The statue of Douglass has sat in the lobby of a D.C. government building since 2007.

Each state can place two statues or busts in the U.S. Capitol, but D.C. has never been extended that privilege—until now.

The House of Representatives voted yesterday to approve a bill that would move a statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass into the U.S. Capitol's Emancipation Hall, ending a long-standing battle by D.C. residents and officials seeking the same recognition afforded to the 50 states inside the Capitol complex.

The statue was one of two commissioned by D.C. in 2006—the second being of Pierre L'Enfant—but has stood in the lobby of a D.C. government building since 2007. Last year Congress and President Barack Obama agreed on a compromise to allow D.C. one statue in the Capitol, and yesterday's House vote finalizes a move and unveiling set for June 19.

In a statement, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton hailed the move.

"There is no better figure to represent our city than Frederick Douglass, who made the city his home and was deeply involved in D.C. government and in the civic affairs of the city. Douglass is not only one of the great international icons of human rights, he is remembered in the District also for his outspoken dedication to democratic self-government and congressional representation for the city,” she said.

Once the Douglass statue is placed in Emancipation Hall, it will be one of only four statues depicting African Americans.


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