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Acceptance Of Statue Of Frederick Douglass For Placement In Emancipation Hall

The text of the bill is as follows:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

Congress finds the following: (1) Frederick Douglass, born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey in Maryland in 1818, escaped from slavery and became a leading writer, orator, and publisher, and one of the Nation's most influential advocates for abolitionism, women's suffrage, and the equality of all people. (2) The contributions of Frederick Douglass over many decades were crucial to the abolition of slavery, the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, the support for women's suffrage, and the advancement of African-Americans after the Civil War. (3) After living in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Frederick Douglass resided for 25 years in Rochester, New York, where he published and edited ``The North Star'', the leading African-American newspaper in the United States, and other publications. (4) Self-educated, Frederick Douglass wrote several influential books, including his best-selling first autobiography, ``Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave'', published in 1845. (5) Frederick Douglass worked tirelessly for the emancipation of African-American slaves, was a pivotal figure in Underground Railroad activities, and was an inspiration to enslaved Americans who aspired to freedom. (6) As a well-known speaker in great demand, Frederick Douglass traveled widely, visiting countries such as England and Ireland, to spread the message of emancipation and equal rights. (7) Frederick Douglass was the only African-American to attend the Seneca Falls Convention, a women's rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. (8) During the Civil War, Frederick Douglass recruited African-Americans to volunteer as soldiers for the Union Army, including 2 of his sons, who served nobly in the Fifty- Fourth Massachusetts Regiment. (9) In 1872, Frederick Douglass moved to Washington, DC, after a fire destroyed his home in Rochester, New York. (10) Frederick Douglass was appointed as a United States Marshal in 1877 and was named Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia in 1881. (11) Frederick Douglass became the first African-American to receive a vote for nomination as President of the United States at a major party convention for the 1888 Republican National Convention. (12) From 1889 to 1891, Frederick Douglass served as minister-resident and consul-general to the Republic of Haiti. (13) Frederick Douglass was recognized around the world as one of the most important political activists in the history of the United States. (14) Frederick Douglass died in 1895 in Washington, DC and is buried in Rochester, New York. (15) Frederick Douglass's achievements and influence on the history of the United States merit recognition in the United States Capitol.

(a) Acceptance.--Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Joint Committee on the Library shall accept from the District of Columbia the donation of a statue depicting Frederick Douglass, subject to the terms and conditions that the Joint Committee considers appropriate. (b) Placement.--The Joint Committee shall place the statue accepted under subsection (a) in a suitable permanent location in Emancipation Hall of the United States Capitol. Amend the title so as to read: ``A bill to direct the Joint Committee on the Library to accept a statue depicting Frederick Douglass from the District of Columbia and to provide for the permanent display of the statue in Emancipation Hall of the United States Capitol.''.

Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from California (Mr. Daniel E. Lungren) and the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Brady) each will control 20 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California.

LUNGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks.

Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from California?

There was no objection.

LUNGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 6336, a bill that I had the privilege to introduce with my esteemed colleague, the representative from the District of Columbia (Ms. Norton). This bill appropriately places a statue of Frederick Douglass into Emancipation Hall in the U.S. Congress.

Frederick Douglass is a pivotal figure in American history who had an unyielding dedication to equal rights, the abolition of slavery, and the advancement of women's suffrage. In addition to a gripping personal saga detailing his flight from slavery to freedom, Frederick Douglass inspired a nation through both his compelling antislavery writings and his rhetoric.

Published in 1845, his eloquent autobiography ``Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave'' undercut pro-slavery arguments. He challenged enslavement, and he inspired individuals seeking their freedom.

After the Civil War, he served in a number of government positions and became the first African American to receive a vote for nomination as President of the United States at the 1888 Republican National Convention--yes, I would repeat, the Republican National Convention. He was a proud Republican.

Mr. Speaker, September 22 marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln signing the preliminary proclamation that paved the way for the Emancipation Proclamation to be signed on January 1, 1863. How fitting that a statue honoring Frederick Douglass, a man who brought freedom to so many, will be on display in Emancipation Hall.

In considering the remarkable achievements of Frederick Douglass and his contributions to our rich history, his presence within the U.S. Capitol will honor this institution and serve as an endearing testimony to the struggle for freedom and equality.

I would like to thank again my colleague, the Congresswoman from the District of Columbia (Ms. Norton). I know she, unfortunately, couldn't be here today because I know she has a requirement to teach a class; otherwise, she would be here. But I wanted to thank her for her tireless work to bring this statue to the Capitol, as well as our counterparts in the Senate, the Senate Rules Committee. As many know, Senator Schumer introduced the companion legislation in the Senate. I thank my ranking member for his support in this effort.

I urge my colleagues to support this measure, and I look forward to welcoming the statue of Frederick Douglass to Emancipation Hall very soon.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

Rep. Robert A. Brady

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I also urge support for H.R. 6336, to direct the Joint Committee on the Library to accept the statue of Frederick Douglass and provide for its permanent display in Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center.

Often considered the father of the civil rights movement, Frederick Douglass' place in history was earned with deep-seated courage and an unshakable belief in the equality of all human beings. A former slave, Douglass went on to become one of the most prominent figures of the movement to free the slaves. His statue should serve as a reminder to millions of visitors to this great place of both how far we've come and how far we still have to go.

Mr. Speaker, I'd also like to thank my chairman, Mr. Lungren, for his patience--this was a long time coming--and his negotiations and for his respect, and also for his unyielding cooperation.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

LUNGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

One of the great things about Frederick Douglass is that he inspired a nation not only by the example of his lifetime in releasing the bonds of slavery and becoming a free man, but he was self-educated. He was a great orator, a great writer, a great inspiration to this country.

There's not too many people that you can talk about that actually can take credit, tremendous credit, for the passage of three amendments to the U.S. Constitution--13th, 14th, and 15th. There's not many people who were on the right side of history in such a tremendous way, someone who not only worked to encourage African Americans to fight in the Civil War on the side of freedom, but also later on to work to ensure that the message of freedom that was the promise of both our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution was embodied specifically in the Constitution by these amendments.

He was a powerful man who was very proud of his history and proud of his place in history in terms of leading a political movement and showing that African Americans were not just freed slaves that somehow got their freedom at the suffrage of the other members of society, but that they fought for it, they struggled for it, and they had both physical courage and intellectual power that inspired the Nation to recognize the fact that we had fallen so far short of the promise of our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

I'm afraid that too many young people today don't know the story of Frederick Douglass. In a small way, this may help to rekindle the interest in Frederick Douglass so that when the young people come here to this Capitol, as they often do, and they look at the statues and they ask who is that and what did he do or what did she do, people can now look proudly to the statue of Frederick Douglass and explain what it is he did and why his powerful legacy is still an inspiration to all of us today.

So I would hope that our Members would unanimously support this legislation and that we would soon see Frederick Douglass return to the United States Capitol in this way.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton

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Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 6336, and to express my deep gratitude to Chairman Dan Lungren for introducing the bill, for consulting with me on it, and for bringing it to the House floor. I would also like to thank Senator Dick Durbin for including a provision in the Senate Appropriations Committee-passed fiscal year 2013 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill to place the Frederick Douglass statue in the U.S. Capitol and Senator Charles Schumer for introducing the Senate companion to H.R. 6336.

The District of Columbia government commissioned the Douglass statue, with the intention of giving it to the American people as a gift to be displayed in the Capitol. Douglass, an iconic leader for equal rights for African Americans and women and an internationally celebrated human rights advocate, spent much of his life as a D.C. resident and served as a local public official. His home in Southeast D.C., which is now the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, sits only a few miles from the Capitol. Since the statue was completed in 2007, I have been pursuing legislation to have Congress accept the District's gift. When Congress built the Capitol Visitor Center, it named the main room ``Emancipation Hall'' in honor of the slaves who helped to build the Capitol. Nevertheless, the Capitol still has a long way to go in telling the nation's story, including the role of African Americans in U.S. history. Currently, there are 180 statues and busts in the Capitol, and the Douglass statue would only be the third portraying an African American.

The time has come for the Congress to accept the District of Columbia's gift. I urge the House to pass the bill.

The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from California (Mr. Daniel E. Lungren) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 6331, as amended.

The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed.

The title was amended so as to read: ``A bill to direct the Joint Committee on the Library to accept a statue depicting Frederick Douglass from the District of Columbia and to provide for the permanent display of the statue in Emancipation Hall of the United States Capitol.''

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.