Our Naked History

A great nation cannot forget its history, good or ill.

Just over three years ago, Barack Hussein Obama, whose African father was born on the shores of Lake Victoria in the British-controlled Colony and Protectorate of Kenya, was sworn in at the U.S. Capitol’s West Front, his hand atop the 1861 Lincoln Inaugural Bible.

Yesterday, this blurb appeared in the U.S. Senate’s Daily Digest:

The concurrent resolution included this language:

…enslaved African-Americans performed the backbreaking work of quarrying the stone which comprised many of the floors, walls, and columns of the Capitol;

…enslaved African-Americans also participated in other facets of construction of the Capitol, including carpentry, masonry, carting, rafting, roofing, plastering, glazing, painting, and sawing;

…slave-quarried stones from the remnants of the original Capitol walls can be found in Rock Creek Park in the District of Columbia;

… the Statue of Freedom now atop the Capitol dome could not have been cast without the pivotal intervention of Philip Reid, an enslaved African-American foundry worker who deciphered the puzzle of how to separate the 5-piece plaster model for casting when all others failed;

…no narrative on the construction of the Capitol that does not include the contribution of enslaved African-Americans can fully and accurately reflect its history;

Yes, it is good from time to time to officially remember how we began and how far we have come, if only to remember there is still work to do.

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