Campus Notebook: Emancipating the CVC

Posted May 15, 2009 at 5:50pm

Reps. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) introduced a bill last week directing the Architect of the Capitol to include an “educational display— in the Capitol Visitor Center that discusses emancipation.

[IMGCAP(1)]In 2007, Wamp and Jackson led the effort to change the name of the CVC’s Great Hall to Emancipation Hall, convincing fellow lawmakers that the new building should recognize the slave laborers who helped build the Capitol.

When the CVC opened on Dec. 2, its main hall bore the Emancipation Hall name. But some Members have noted the absence of any explanation for the naming, and the new bill aims to fix that.

“Without it, you’ve done nothing more than name the room,— Wamp said, adding that he envisions an interactive kiosk that will tell the story of emancipation.

The resolution also emphasizes the religious underpinnings for President Abraham Lincoln’s decision to free the slaves, reflecting the sponsors’ hope that the educational display will include references to God. Since the CVC opened, some Members have complained that officials left out religion from exhibits about the country’s founding.

“The truth is that Lincoln based his decisions on why the slaves must be freed and why emancipation was necessary on two things — one was the Constitution and the second was that God made all men equal,— Wamp said.

So far, the bill has 69 co-sponsors — 39 Democrats and 30 Republicans.

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