STATUE OF LIMITATIONS
A $100,000 bronze statue of Frederick Douglass once intended for National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol is described as homeless by its maker, who says the 7-foot figure of the famed statesman and abolitionist was barred from the historic space because of a technicality: The District of Columbia is not a state.
The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities commissioned local sculptor Steven Weitzman to create the work. It was presented to the Capitol in 2007, as a gift on behalf of the city, and rejected — now “collecting dust at Judiciary Square, with no home,” he says.
“There was no doubt in my mind that this bronze likeness of Frederick Douglass would go into the U.S. Capitol while creating it. However, I do hope to see him placed there in my lifetime. But it is not for me to decide,” Mr. Weitzman tells Inside the Beltway.
“Each state is allowed to have two statues as a gift to the Capitol. But we are not yet a state. This is preventing us from honoring one of our own sons of D.C. Accepting this statue will lead us one step closer to statehood.”
Could neighbors help? In a Feb. 9 letter to House Republican leadership, Virginia Gov. Bob Mcdonnell advised them to support legislation granting the District the budgetary autonomy that “governors of every state enjoy.” The Prince George’s County Council in Maryland also adopted a resolution supporting District statehood.
“It is a public monument so it needs to be in a public place. But I do believe it was made for the U.S. Capitol, and it should find its way,” Mr. Weitzman observes.