I see freedom as one of those all-American big concept words that I refuse to cede to the right wing. I have been thinking about it a lot lately.(More)

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

There is a bronze statue called freedom that sits atop our nation’s capitol. She (yes she) was designed by Thomas Crawford and placed on the capitol dome in 1863.

She is a female allegorical figure whose right hand holds the hilt of a sheathed sword while a laurel wreath of victory and the Shield of the United States are clasped in her left hand. Her chiton is secured by a brooch inscribed “U.S.” and is partially covered by a heavy, Native American-style fringed blanket thrown over her left shoulder. She faces east towards the main entrance of the building and the rising Sun. She wears a military helmet adorned with stars and an eagle’s head which is itself crowned by an umbrella-like crest of feathers.

The original hat design called for a “liberty cap” which was the “old Roman symbol for an emancipated slave.” Since the discussion was taking place in the run up to the Civil War, you can imagine the sensitivities.

So we have a statue of freedom sitting atop a capitol building partially built by slave labor. In 2012 Congress finally got around to commemorating the role of African Americans in building the capitol.

THIS SANDSTONE WAS ORIGINALLY PART OF THE UNITED STATES CAPITOL’S EAST FRONT, CONSTRUCTED IN 1824-1826. IT WAS QUARRIED BY LABORERS, INCLUDING ENSLAVED AFRICAN AMERICANS, AND COMMEMORATES THEIR IMPORTANT ROLE IN BUILDING THE CAPITOL.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.” Perhaps some of the right wing members of “the party of Lincoln” would do well to remember his words.