Frederick Douglass, prominent abolitionist, writer and orator, now towers over a podium in the U.S. Capitol, a speech curled passionately in his hand.
Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner and several key members of Congress sat next to the likeness during a Wednesday ceremony in Emancipation Hall that unveiled the seven-foot bronze statue of a man who escaped the bounds of slavery to start a newspaper, advise President Abraham Lincoln and advance the cause of freedom and equality.
“He set an example for humanity that is unmatched,” said Boehner, a Republican from Ohio. “He is a man for all generations. Today we place him here, in the company of kings and explorers . . . for our leaders to gather around and seek wisdom, for our children to gaze upon and find inspiration.”
Douglass fought for human freedom throughout his life. He pushed literacy as a path to freedom, writing three autobiographies and starting The North Star newspaper. In 1877, he became a United States marshal for the District of Columbia, in 1881 was named recorder of deeds and in 1889 was named the minister and consul general to Haiti.
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“It is right and fitting that Frederick Douglass – this extraordinary man, this unflinching voice for freedom, this unyielding advocate for justice – should be honored with an enduring monument,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. “And it is just and proper that more than 600,000 American citizens who reside in the District of Columbia should finally have a statue representing them here in the United States Capitol.”