What About Out Daughters has an excellent roundup of black opinion around Independence Day from a number of solid bloggers. African-Americans are among the most patriotic of Americans there are and if July 4th is well, bittersweet to some, it’s only because our dedicated, proven love of country has not always been exactly, uh (how shall I put this delicately?) fully reciprocated in the past.

Let me break it down for ya and let’s talk about the irony of a statue called “Freedom”. From USAToday last year:

The statue crowning the U.S. Capitol is called “Freedom.” Yet it was a black slave who figured out how to coax apart the 19½-foot, 15,000-pound plaster statue so it could be cast in bronze and rejoined atop the dome.

Slaves, in fact, helped build much of the building and grounds of Congress, their owners earning $5 per month for their work. Ed Hotaling, a retired TV reporter in Washington, was among the first to widely publicize this in a report in 2000.

Following Hotaling’s lead, a task force is planning a permanent memorial to the hundreds of slaves who helped build the Capitol from the late 1700s until the mid-1800s. The group will make recommendations to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, president pro tempore of the Senate.


The final cost and form of the memorial is still undetermined. It could be a site on the Capitol grounds or a living memorial such as an annual traditional African ceremony to honor the slaves.

“I don’t think the story of the Capitol would be fully told until we have something depicting the lives of the people who helped build it,” says Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a student leader during the civil rights movement. Lewis and J.C. Watts, a Republican former member of Congress from Oklahoma, set up the task force.

Currie Ballard, a historian at Langston University in Oklahoma and a task force member who favors a living memorial, says it is fitting that the effort also inform people about the country’s African- American heritage.

“It’s so apropos that America says, ‘Yes, a wrong has been committed, and let’s educate people that black people have made a significant contribution to America,’ ” Ballard says.

I agree. Let’s do that. Phillip Reid is an American hero whose story deserves to be told. Does anyone know what happened to the plans for this memorial under the watch of GOP stalwarts Ted “Series of Tubes” Stevens and Denny “What Child Molester?” Hastert? The building of the memorial was passed into law in 2000. What’s the status of the memorial now? Just askin’…

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