3X as Many Confederate Statues as Ones of Blacks in U.S. Capitol
Confederate monuments are under scrutiny nationwide in wake of Charlottesville riots.
Confederate monuments have become the epicenters for protests and unrest following a white supremacists and neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va, that left three dead and scores injured.
The white supremacist rally that jolted the nation was organized protesting the removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee. Then on Monday night, protestors tore down a confederate monument in Durham, NC.
Monuments to the confederacy are well-represented in many cities and states in the South —but also, more surprisingly, are sprinkled throughout the U.S. Capitol.
In fact, there are three times as many statues of Confederate soldiers and politicians as there are of black historical figures in the entire Capitol complex, according to records maintained by the Architect of the Capitol obtained by The Washington Post.
The Statuary Hall Collection, created by an act of Congress in 1864, is made up of 100 statues, two from each state. It is supposed to commemorate “deceased persons who have been citizens thereof, and illustrious for their historic renown or for distinguished civic or military services,” writes The Washington Post.
State legislatures and governors make the decision on how to memorialize. There are statues of presidents, entertainers, soldiers, and educators.
Twelve of those statues are of Confederate soldiers or politicians. None of them are of a black American.
Congress tried to address this disconnect. Since only the states could add statues to the official Statuary Hall Collection, the Post says, Congress commissioned its own works of art commemorating African Americans. These were placed alongside the statues in the Hall.
Martin Luther King Jr. was added in 1986. But then no other statue was added until 2009, when Sojourner Truth was placed in the Emancipation hall of the Capitol Visitor’s Center. The first full-sized statues of a black Americans were in 2013 when bronzes of Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks were added.
Meanwhile, Confederate soldiers and politicians have been part of the Statuary Hall Collection for over 100 years. General Robert E. Lee is included in that group; Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, is also featured.
Both Mississippi and South Carolina are represented exclusively by Confederate figures in the Statuary Hall Collection.
In 2000, a law was passed that allowed states to update their statuary representation in the Capitol. Alabama replaced Confederate officer Jabez Curry’s statue in 2009 with Helen Keller. Florida is replacing Confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith.
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