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Providing for Design of Slave Labor Marker in Capitol Visitor Center

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Location: Washington, DC


PROVIDING FOR DESIGN OF SLAVE LABOR MARKER IN CAPITOL VISITOR CENTER -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 13, 2009)

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Mr. HARE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H. Con. Res. 135. I commend my colleague from Georgia, Representative JOHN LEWIS, for introducing this important legislation that acknowledges the role slave labor had in the construction of the U.S. Capitol building.

Over four hundred enslaved African Americans performed the backbreaking work of quarrying the stone which now comprises many of the floors, walls, and columns of the U.S. Capitol. They were carpenters, masons, painters, and roofers--all skilled workers who built this important symbol of American democracy, while at the same time were denied their freedom by the evil grasp of slavery.

Mr. Lewis' resolution calls for a marker in the Capitol Visitor Center's Emancipation Hall dedicated to the enslaved African-Americans who helped build the Capitol. This marker would serve as a humble token of appreciation and teach visitors about this vital part of the Capitol's history.

The American people deserve a government that is honest about its past. It is only by recognizing the past, in all its complexities, that we can fully appreciate what we now have in the present, and build a better future. Slavery in no shape or form shall be acceptable in the eyes of the United States, which is why we must always give thanks and appreciation to the hundreds of enslaved workers who contributed to the making of this building. Though they themselves were denied personal freedom, they courageously constructed a testament to freedom that has represented this great nation for over 200 years. It is time for their efforts to be brought forward from the shadows of history.

I strongly urge all my colleagues to vote for H. Con. Res. 135, and would again like to thank my friend JOHN LEWIS for introducing this important legislation.

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