D.C. May Get Statues in Capitol Building

Douglass, L'Enfant could be added

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    WASHINGTON - JUNE 03: A statue of former President Ronald Reagan is displayed following an unveiling ceremony in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol June 3, 2009 in Washington, DC. The statue will become part of the National Statuary Hall Collection. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

    In another bold move to certify D.C.’s pseudo-statehood, the House Administration Committee is expected to approve a measure introduced by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton that would let the District add two statues to the National Statuary Hall Collection in the Capitol building.

    The Washington Post says even this symbolic measure has sparked controversy. An earlier version of Norton’s bill said D.C.’s contributions would be displayed “in the same manner as statues honoring citizens of the States.” That one failed. The bill expected to pass this week has no mention of the word “states.”

    While even Republicans on the committee are not expected to oppose this small gesture to honor a city that pays the nation’s highest per capita income taxes and that has sent 192,000 residents off to war, ranking Republican Dan Lungren can’t resist a dig. He wants to give D.C. just one statue, as a reminder that we are not a real state.

    So, when will we see the statues of Duke Ellington and Benjamin Banneker installed? Well, for once, those two D.C. notables -- finalists for the D.C. “state” quarter and pretty much every other historical honor the District has ever awarded -- are not on the roster. Instead, Frederick Douglass and Pierre L'Enfant will get the honor. Their statues were sculpted four years ago and have been waiting at One Judiciary Square ever since.

    (As for the quarter, I personally preferred the possibly NSFW Marion Barry design that Modern Humorist offered some years ago.)

    Norton postponed her push for the statues in order to work on D.C. House voting rights, an effort stalled by a fight over gun control. Norton says she does not expect the National Rifle Association to block the statuary bill, but a Post commenter wryly writes, “I fully expect an amendment will be offered to require one or both of the statues to be carrying firearms.”

    In the meantime, efforts for full D.C. representation continue. The American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area tonight hosts a “Warriors of Statehood” event -- $51 to get in -- while tomorrow, the group hosts “An Evening of Education and Entertainment In Support of D.C. Statehood” on the West Lawn of the Capitol.