Monument in Capitol should remind people of slaves’ sacrifices

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The following is a letter to U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.):

I am writing to you today to request a ceremony of significance be held when Emancipation Hall is completed. I am sure you are aware that the U.S. Capitol building and other historic buildings in Washington, D.C., were constructed using slave labor.

Our ancestors toiled for endless hours when no heavy equipment was used to ease their burden. Men and women were treated like beasts of burden rather than the human beings they were. This is why it is important to spread the word.

All Americans and the world must be made aware of the awesome contributions of the sons and daughters of Ham and the inhuman conditions under which they were compelled to toil. These indisputable historic facts must not be kept to ourselves or the U.S. government. Doing so would be continuing a cover-up.

The U.S. Congress must tell everyone of our ancestors' extraordinary accomplishments. Remember that the U.S. Constitution defined our ancestors as three-fifths of a human being and the U.S. Supreme Court, in its Dred Scott decision, declared that "even a free black man has no rights which a white man is bound to respect."

The founding fathers were enslavers, yet they are revered by our fellow citizens. Our enslaved forbearers, who often paid the ultimate sacrifice, must be recognized and honored for who they were and what they did. A monument must be dedicated to the memory of our loved ones.

The only fitting place would be in the Capitol rotunda among the icons who did not declare our ancestors human.

There must be an appropriate ceremony when Emancipation Hall is dedicated. World media must be notified and educational institutions must teach this history just as the Holocaust and other atrocities are taught. This history must be shouted from the rooftops so all humanity will take note.

I have no doubt you are cognizant that the scourge of racism still remains in this country today. Are our people truly free? Do we yet receive equal treatment and justice? You and I know the answers to these questions. The people of this nation must continue to work together to honor those who have passed and those of us who continue to work for true equality and freedom.

My phone call in the summer of 2004 to U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) complaining about how this country never recognized the enslaved Africans who built the Capitol building led to the formation of the Congressional task force of which you are the chairman.

The task force's purpose was to research who built the Capitol and the White House, which was referred to as the president's palace.

Normally, I would never make such a request, but I feel that the call I made to Ackerman is significant enough concerning the above historic findings that both of our names should be etched into the official records of Congress for posterity.

Posted 6:37 pm, October 10, 2011
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