D.C.

D.C.'s Frederick Douglass statue to move to U.S. Capitol Building

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D.C. residents are celebrating another victory on the path toward statehood.

A statue of Frederick Douglass housed inside One Judiciary Square is moving into the U.S. Capitol Building.

It will join statues honoring notable figures from all 50 states.

It's taken nearly 150 years for D.C. to get representation inside National Statuary Hall. Congress began inviting each state back in 1864 to contribute two statues of prominent citizens for permanent display.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said, "He will help us spread the word that we do not have our full rights as a city, just as he lived his life doing that."

Norton sees the statue of Douglas as a ticket toward statehood. She spent a decade fighting for district representation inside statuary hall.

During the last congressional session, lawmakers finally said yes.

"For years, we couldn't get this because they said we weren't a state, and we finally broke through," Norton added.

Sometime this year, Douglass will move out of the city government building lobby and into the Capitol, where he'll catch the eyes of millions of annual visitors.

Norton said the statue symbolizes much more than the end of slavery.

"We're celebrating Douglass," Norton said. "The great Washingtonian and supporter for D.C. Rights...Douglass the member of the board of Howard University. Douglass who was hunted for 10 years as a runaway slave by U.S. Marshals who became a U.S. Marshal in the District of Columbia. Douglass who became a huge exponent for what he called district suffrage."

Washingtonians we spoke with applaud the statue's move.

Stephanie Perry, who works in the district, said, "He wasn't just an abolitionist. He was a man who didn't just sit there and have ideas, but he turned them into reality."

Others hope keeping Douglass' memory alive on Capitol Hill will inspire more progress, like a D.C. vote.

"My father used to always say that the district we're paying taxes, we should also have voting rights and we do not have it so why not," FMichael Orton of D.C. said. "If this is a positive first step then I think that's great."

Norton said this one more step on the long path to statehood. But she is proud of how far D.C. has come recently. She helped pass legislation preserving the D.C. War Memorial for D.C. veterans only and got lawmakers to sign off on flying the D.C. flag alongside the flags of all 50 states at military ceremonies. 

While other states have two statues inside the U.S. Capitol Building, the district is only getting one for now. But the "DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities", through a public process, selected Douglas and Pierre L'Enfant as the two residents whose statutes should represent D.C. in the Capitol.

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