A five-year fight to get abolitionist Frederick Douglass inside the Capitol has apparently ended in an impasse, with the life-size statue of the 19th-century hero left standing in a District of Columbia government building about four blocks off the Hill.
The statue, completed by sculptor Steven Weitzman in 2007, has been blocked from the Rotunda and the Capitol Visitor Center because current law allows only statues from the states — not from Washington, D.C. — to be displayed in the Capitol complex.
Two weeks ago, Weitzman asked the D.C. agency that commissioned his work to make a last petition for its placement at the Capitol. But the Architect of the Capitol's office gave Lionell Thomas, the executive director of the D.C. Arts and Humanities Commission, the same answer that he has already heard many times before.
"Until the original legislation is amended, only statues from the 50 states are allowed, by law, in the National Statuary Hall Collection," Eva Malecki, spokeswoman for the architect, told National Journal Daily.
A bill allowing D.C. to place two statues in the Capitol has been idling in the House Administration Committee since last fall.
Weitzman's statue of Douglass was the product of more than a year of research, model-building, and sculpting. It depicts the abolitionist leader in his 50s, delivering a speech with a paper in his hand and a pen at his side, to suggest his talents as both a writer and an orator.