& Research of Global News Events
Markers Commemorate Slave
Laborers of the U.S. Capitol
By Robert "Rob" Redding Jr.
Editor & Publisher
ATLANTA, Updated Feb. 28,
2012 10:30 p.m., Originally posted Feb. 28,
2012, 2 p.m.
- Slave laborers were recognized today for building the U.S. Capitol in a ceremony in
the Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitors Center.
Leadership of the House and Senate unveiled a
marker that commemorates the contributions of more than 100 slaves who helped
build the U.S. Capitol.
“I am very proud,” said Rep. John Lewis, “that
the work of the task force has led to this and other ways that
the story of slave laborers will be remembered as contributors
to the Capitol building. Too many people believe that African
Americans had played no significant role in establishing this
country. That is partially due to the fact that the story of
their contribution has not been told.
“When I walk through Statuary Hall, it means
a great deal to me to know that the unusual grey marble columns
were likely hewn` and polished by slaves in Maryland. They
quarried the stone in Maryland and sailed ships or barges many
miles down the Potomac River weighed down by heavy marble
columns to bring them to D.C. Somehow they carried them several
miles through the streets perhaps using wagons and mules or
horses, and then hoisted them up so they are standing as we see
them today in the Capitol. The bronze statue sitting on top of
the Capitol dome also involved the contribution of slaves.
These men and woman played a powerful role in our history and
that must not be forgotten.”
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The unveiling is the result of 12 years of work by the
Special Task Force to Study the History and Contributions of Slave
Laborers in the Construction of the U.S. Capitol led by Lewis, of
Georgia. The committee was formed after a bill held in the National
Archives came to light showing payment for the use of slaves in the
building of the Capitol. The bill was something archivists had known
about for years, but a reporter discovered it and publicized his
Meanwhile, Obama, the nation's first black president, just
six black unsung heroes at the White House.
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