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The Emancipation of the Frederick Douglass Statue

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Yesterday, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) was pleased to join Mayor Vincent C. Gray, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and other city officials in a send-off ceremony for the Frederick Douglass statue located at 441 Fourth Street, NW.

Plans are underway to relocate the statue of the famed abolitionist and writer to the United States Capitol’s Visitor’s Center Statuary Hall—a result of the signing of Bill H.R. 4021 by President Barack Obama on September 20, 2012. It will join statues honoring notable figures from all 50 states. The statue, which was originally commissioned by the DCCAH in 2006, was placed in the One Judiciary Square building.

District residents selected the Douglass statue as the result of a popular vote. The statue was created by sculptor Steven Weitzman who portrayed Douglass in bronze as an orator and writer of the North Star publication. The North Star, considered the most influential black antislavery newspaper, was founded by Douglass in 1847 and published until 1851. Born a slave in Maryland, Douglass made Washington DC’s Anacostia neighborhood his home in 1877 until his death in 1895.

“This statue is an astounding testimony of the dignity, perseverance and freedom that Frederick Douglass’ life represents,” said Judith Terra, Chair of the DC. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. “This sculpture by Steven Weitzman is a stately and poignant work of art. The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities is dedicated to supporting art of the highest caliber and masterful artists who create splendid and enduring work such as this.”

“This sculpture is a powerful artwork that we are proud to have contributed to this city’s storied history,” said Lionell Thomas, Executive Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. “The bronze statue of Frederick Douglass represents the fight for freedom, and it’s fitting that arts can be a catalyst to address civil issues.”