What are we Honoring? (Looking to Statuary Hall)
Consider this: In the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection there are three times as many statues of Confederate soldiers and politicians as there are statues of black people in the entire Capitol complex, according to records maintained by the Architect of the Capitol.
Remarkably, one of the Confederate politicians so honored is Alexander Stephens, CSA Vice President and author of the infamous “Cornerstone Speech” which includes the following clear admission of the foundation of the Confederate States of America:
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition.
The speaker of those words is given the honor of being one of two Georgians honored in the US Capitol. Is it is any wonder that many Americans wonder what the point of these venerations is supposed to be? Does anything think that the vast African-American population of Georgia finds this memorial to be appropriate? What signal was this symbol meant to send?
More from the article on Statuary Hall:
The Statuary Hall Collection comprises 100 statues, two from each state. It was created by an act of Congress in 1864 to allow each state to commemorate “deceased persons who have been citizens thereof, and illustrious for their historic renown or for distinguished civic or military services.” Decisions about which individuals to memorialize are made by state legislatures and governors.
Twelve of the statues memorialize individuals who either fought for the Confederacy or were active in Confederate politics. But not a single black American is represented in the Statuary Hall Collection.
In recent decades federal lawmakers sought to address this disconnect. They couldn’t add any statues to the official Statuary Hall Collection — that power was given only to the states. So Congress commissioned its own works of art commemorating African Americans, to be placed alongside the statues in Statuary Hall.
The first was a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., added in 1986. Congress didn’t create any additional statues of African Americans until the Obama administration, when in 2009 another bust, this one of Sojourner Truth, was placed in Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor’s Center.
So, 1o0 statues, 12 confederates, zero African-Americans. Again: what message is intended here?