The Original Statue of Liberty a Black Woman

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The original statue of Liberty gifted by the French to America was not the stern-faced green Roman looking woman that you see today holding a tablet and a torch. The original and first Statue of Liberty was a Black woman holding the broken shackles of slavery. She was refused on the notion that the black statue would be a constant reminder of the liberty that the slaves earned, from successfully fighting in the American Civil War. The true Black Statue of Liberty remains rejected, forgotten and lost in broken fragments of Black history.

The statue of Liberty that stands today, that so many American’s love and proudly boast, that appears on all sorts of merchandise, in movies, and is the most recognized woman worldwide, is a colossal lie. Every good magician will tell you that the best way to hide something is to have it in plain sight. Undoubtably, a vast amount of  important Black history – such as this – has been hidden from us all both Black and White.

Why was the Statue of Liberty Really Created?

French historian Edouard de Laboulaye, chairman of the French Anti-Slavery Society, together with sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, proposed to the French government that the people of France should present the United States – through the American Abolitionist Society – the gift of a Statue of Liberty in recognition of the Black soldiers who won the Civil War in the United States, earning themselves their freedom. It was widely known then that it was Black soldiers who played the pivotal role in winning the war, and this gift was supposed to be a tribute to their prowess.

Why was the Black Statue of Liberty Rejected?

When the statue was presented to the U.S. Minister to France in 1884, it was rejected on the notion that the dominant view of the broken shackles would be offensive to a defeated U.S. South, who despised their former captives and would not want to be faced with a constant reminder of Blacks winning their freedom.

When Did This Hidden Piece of History Publicly Resurface?

Dr. Jack Felder, a biochemist, educator, author and historian, asked this startling question in a New York newspaper, the Daily Challenge (July 16, 1990):

Did you know that the original Statue of Liberty was to have been a Black woman being liberated from slavery with broken chains in her hands and at her feet and that she also had a dark Negroid face?

 In the newspaper article, Dr. Felder further writes that:

Eventually, Bartholdi built a model faithful to the wishes of de Laboulaye with broken chains at her feet and a broken chain in her left hand and a distinctly Negroid face. The broken chains were to show the broken chains of slavery.

This list is of the documents of proof, presented in the same newspaper article by Dr. Felder:

1.) You may go and see the original model of the Statue of Liberty, with the broken chains at her feet and in her left hand. Go to the Museum of the City of NY, Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street write to Peter Simmons and he can send you some documentation.

2.) Check with the N.Y. Times magazine, part II_May 18, 1986. Read the article by Laboulaye.

3.) The dark original face of the Statue of Liberty can be seen in the N.Y. Post, June 17, 1986, also the Post stated the reason for the broken chains at her feet.

4.) Finally, you may check with the French Mission or the French Embassy at the U.N. or in Washington, D.C. and ask for some original French material on the Statue of Liberty, including the Bartholdi original model.

The Journey of Edouard de Laboulaye and Frederic Auguste Bartholdi in Creating the Statue of Liberty

Edouard de Laboulaye, an internationally renowned lawyer and author of a three-volume history of the United States, first presented the idea of a symbol of the end of American slavery at a dinner party in 1865, at his country home near Versailles, France, among many abolitionists including Victor Hugo and Frederick Auguste Bartholdi.

After Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States in 1861, the French liberals and abolitionists including Hugo, Bartholdi, and Laboulaye urged Lincoln to free the slaves even if Civil war resulted.

When the war ended in 1865, French abolitionists again urging Lincoln to free all slaves, Laboulaye and Bartholdi requested permission to build and dedicate a colossal monument to symbolize the freeing of all slaves in America. The assassination of Lincoln saw a pivotal turning point for the intended Black Statue of Liberty.

Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, an outstanding French sculptor had a life changing experience the year of 1855 when he toured Egypt and saw the magnificent colossal monuments and statues created by the ancient Black Egyptians. It was this experience alongside his ties with Laboulaye that inspired Bartholdi’s creation of a giant Black ex-slave female with broken chains at her feet and left hand. One which was readily accepted in France, by 1881 some 100,000 people and 181 towns throughout France had contributed money.

In 1871, Frederic Bartholdi at the urging of Laboulaye travelled to America to promote his idea of a colossal statue symbolizing the end of chattel slavery in the United States. He took with him a large terra-cotta statue and many drawings to clearly illustrate the Black Statue of Liberty.  Bartholdi found little American support for his African slave model. In 1878, as the African head of Miss Liberty first went on display at the Universal Exposition in Paris, France, rampant reaction raged throughout the American South.

Unfortunately, Bartholdi was forced to conform to specific white supremacist ideals that saw the statue evolve to the Statue of Liberty we see in New York today. The African face was re-sculptured into the face of his mother Madame Bartholdi and a tablet of law tucked into her folded arm that bears the date July 4, 1776, replaced the broken chains in the Black female slave’s left hand. Ironically, the chains were left at the feet but the meaning changed from broken American slavery to broken English tyranny.

Arguments against the Original Statue of Liberty being a Black Woman

Many Eurocentric historians have been quick to negatively respond to the emerged truth about the original Black Statue of Liberty; labeling it as a rumour at best and attacking all evidence brought forward to support the fact; however none have made as active an effort to prove that the current statue was what was originally intended. Often repetitive statements such as “no evidence” or “no support” follow statements of clear fact, but they themselves build their arguments more on rationale than evidence.

Dr. Trachtenberg, who wrote the text for the Statue of Liberty exhibition on Liberty Island and is the author of ”The Statue of Liberty” (Viking, 1976), said: ”I don’t know of any evidence that it was supposed to be a black figure initially.”

Dr. Boime of U.C.L.A. said that ”I would have pursued that belief if it had any substance, but perhaps this is a reference to the model for Bartholdi’s Suez project, which was the statue of a Nubian woman,” which was never built. A statue of a Nubian woman that was never built – again evidence in plain sight.

Some have even discredited the Civil War efforts of Black soldiers as a basis for the statue not representing the efforts of Black soldiers who won over the Civil War. However, the fact remains that without the assistance of the Black soldiers the Civil War may not have resulted in the same way.

Facts that are not Denied by Historians

French historian Edouard de Laboulaye, who originally proposed the monument, was a leader of the anti-slavery movement in his country and Frederic Bartholdi himself had connections to the abolitionist movement, as well.

Bartholdi who had visited and was inspired by Egypt, used Egypt as his principal inspiration for the Statue of Liberty.

Bartholdi’s design models for the Statue of Liberty evolved from earlier sketches by the artist of a black Egyptian women.

The original African face of the Statue of Liberty was published in The New York Post dated June 17, 1986 as part of the centennial celebration.

The original design of the statue had gone through several changes and evolved from an earlier concept Bartholdi proposed for a colossal monument in Egypt, for which the artist used his drawings of Egyptian women as models.

Bartholdi changed a broken shackle and chain in the statue’s left hand to tablets inscribed “July IV, MDCCLXXVI” (July 4, 1776).

The original face of the statue of Liberty was dark, as copper was the chosen material of Bartholdi; copper which closely fits the skin completion of the African slaves. There are those who believe that Bartholdi knew and intended that the statue would later turn green from weathering, however it is more likely that he underestimated the drastically hard and fast damage to be caused by the weathering. There has been no attempt to restore the monumental Lady Liberty to her original copper colour.

ABC News highlighted that a 21-inch terra-cotta model by Bartholdi “designed after the likeness of a black woman” does indeed stand next to a model of the current statue in the Museum of the City of New York and around its left hand dangles a broken chain.

On review of the undisputed facts it is not so hard to believe that two Anti-Slavery Abolitionists, with a passion to see slaves in America freed and one who was greatly inspired by Egypt would create a Black Statue of Liberty to symbolize the end of slavery which Black soldiers fought hard for in the American Civil War. In fact all the evidence indicates that the original statue was modeled in the liking of a Black Egyptian woman representing freedom from slavery with her broken shackles. This historical moment in Black history was almost completely erased, by several adapted versions of the statue each closer to the acceptance of the US South and in dilution of the original intent of Bartholdi and Laboulaye. Finally the result was a statue that looks like a Roman, thus closer to Eurocentric ideals and less associated with the freedom of slaves but instead with democracy in general.

Traditional Perspective of the Statue of Liberty

The traditional view passed down the years through American educational institutions; tells that Lady Liberty was created to commemorate the friendship forged between the United States and France during the Revolutionary War. By 1903, when the statue was inscribed with Emma Lazarus’s poetic words, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” it was supposed to symbolize America’s status as a safe haven for refugees and immigrants from every corner of the world. How many truly believe heartily these words?

The African-American Perspective of the Current Statue of Liberty

Suzanne Nakasian, when director of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island Foundations’ National Ethnic Campaign said that the Black Americans’ direct connection to Lady Liberty is unknown to the majority of Americans, BLACK or WHITE.

African-Americans contributed to the main fund-raising drive for the statue’s pedestal, participated in public celebrations during its dedication in New York City, along with privately organised celebrations at that time. Yet for Black Americans the Statue of Liberty has also long symbolized America’s failure to protect their civil rights. In the early 1900s, many African-Americans were victims of white supremacists and nativists who used the statue to represent their exclusionary views. Since then, continuing ambiguity among African-Americans about whether to embrace Lady Liberty as hopefully or scorn her as a symbol of American hypocrisy has been expressed in numerous works of art, political debates, and, on at least one occasion live protest. There has also been long and fierce public debate about the Immigration Museum at the Statue of Liberty, in view of the audacity that African-Americans who were brought involuntarily to America as slaves are presented as “immigrants”.

Conclusion

Despite being called the Statue of Liberty there is nothing which gives a sense of liberty about a Roman looking woman holding a  tablet and a torch. Who is she liberating? Who has she fought for? The hardened expression on her face offers no warmth and there is certainly no national connection of Roman women in American history. Hiding the real history of the statue of liberty only serves to make a mockery of American democracy and ideals of freedom and liberation.

In, From the Statue of Liberty (Liberation) to the Statue of Bigotry, Dr. Felder cites Bartholdi’s words:

Colossal statuary does not consist simply in making an enormous statue. It ought to produce an emotion in the breast of the spectator, not because of the volume, but because its size is in keeping with the idea it interprets…

Why is the truth about the Black Statue of Liberty still rejected today? For the same reason the statue was rejected back then, no recognition is to be given to Black Americans, greater than that for Whites, no history to build African-American pride and certainly no markers of their equal standing among all men, are to exist in a society where the ruling class still holds to white supremacists ideals.

Videos

Poem: Black Statue of Liberty by Jessica Care Moore

The Black Statue of Liberty by Alex Jackson

Sources:

OURStory: Black Statue of Liberty, Electronic Village, 19 January 2012

Monumental Rumor Sparks Fresh Research, About, 02 September 2000

Cracks Found In the Myths Around Statue; Park Service Librarian Writes Book to Clarify Lady Liberty’s OriginsNY Times, October 28, 2000

Black Statue of Liberty – Summary Report, National Park History, September 2000

Statue of Liberty, Snopes, 28 September 2007

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  • http://www.facebook.com/EbonicsPress All Black Woman via Facebook

    Being black is as natural as the sun rising and rain falling, yet we still have to justify our value and existence.

  • http://johngloverspeaks.com John Glover

    I make it a point and pride myself on being knowledgeable when it comes to African American history but this one has evaded my quest for knowledge.
    I’m glad you shared this because I learned something new.
    I’m subscribing and I’m going to add this post to my site as well, it’s http://johngloverspeaks.com

    Keep Up The Great Work.

    • http://www.allblackwoman.com admin

      Thanks so much for your support, we will definitely keep at it. :o)

  • Mahoffman

    Please do your research instead of writing what you would like to believe. This article is just blatantly wrong. http://www.snopes.com/history/american/liberty.asp

    • http://www.allblackwoman.com admin

      We did include snopes in our research and I think that you will find that snopes is not the holy book of truthful fact but instead an educated opinion on the subject from a white supremacist point of view, that as we concluded rejects any notion of great recognition being given to blacks. If you read snopes carefully you will find that it is also in line with the facts that are not denied by historians, listed in this article but despite the clear evidence it tries to deny the possibility of a black statue as well as discredits the efforts of black soldiers in the war. This is simple disrespectful and racially biased. So “blatantly wrong” it is not what the article is, it is what you would like to believe. I’m sure you also think that Jesus and Cleopatra were pale white with blonde hair and blue eyes. The destruction of historical facts and corruption of truth is a well-known predisposition of European colonialist (that later became Americans) and their European ancestors before them.

    • Kendriana

      Yeah you can tell the snopes report was totally written from a white supremacist pov. Anyway, this isn’t the first time that some major historical figure of color was altered to appear white and it won’t be the last time. Historians also have this habit of making white figures look like heroes when many of them were racist, facist, sexist, murderers. What kills me is that they’ll also discredit and entire civilization of color for a discovery and give it to a white person, I really do not get it…

  • http://toledoinvestmentdeals.com/the_blog John Glover

    I just shared your article on my site, here is the link http://johngloverspeaks.com/celebrate-the-4th/
    I felt today was the best day to do it, just seems fitting.

  • Richard

    Ok i just want to get this out of the way. Yes i am white and i’m irish and my family is from Ireland. Only thing i can say is i understand but not fully on how black people feel about what happen from the birth of America til now. If you would like to know on how i think this i will leave my facebook/email at the end of this.

    I would like to say the idea of a black statue of liberty is a great idea but i would i to say i dont think its true. These are the reason why.

    1.) When all of this was coming to be the timeline/dates and locations on when this is still going on. Late 1800 to the early 1900 in the North in New York when this was coming to be.

    2.) At the time this was going the French wanted to give the Unitied State a gift for its up coming birthday. I’m sure its well documented and in news pappers from east to west talking about the statue of liberty. But i have never heard of something like this and doesnt mean i’m right.

    3.) When the project of the statue of liberty started to come they needed some help to build it and to put it some where. But a lot of people dont know that base of where the statue stands most of the money that was donated to it came from black people. I’m sure something would be said right thier.

    4.) When the statue was made by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi he made it to look like his mother and and his lover.

    5.) Yes he did make a black/dark skin statue it was going to be given to Eygpt. But i have not found anything to say that if they took it or said no.

    6.) The History channel, History channel 2, and Discovery channels are always on in my house and havent seen anything on this subject. I have seen the show America the un told story of us on the history channel and didnt see anything. But they did do a part on the statue it self it was never said if it was black/dark skin. I know if it not on the History channel doesnt make it true they just havent found something on it or not.

    So these are my reason why i dont think this is true. It doesnt make me right or wrong just like everyone else. But i do have to say the sources that you have put down cant really confirm this because if i do call the U.N and ask them for the info i’m sure your not going to get the 100% truth on this and not everyone can put out the money to go to New York to see what they have.

    But what i do think is people are forgetting what the real reason what the statue of libarty stands for. It doesnt matter if its black/dark skin red or pink (thats why its green lol j/k). Its there to remind us that we are all lucky to be free no matter who the person is.

    I would alos like to add im not here to fight or start a fight or to go along with one. I’m here becasue i love history and i want to know everthing i can about it. But i do wish if someone does find some (not saying the fact that where put down are not) Hardcore proof on this subject please send it to me. History is the only thing i like to be wrong or right about on the subject.. So i would like to say thank you for taking the time to read this and i do like this post..

    P.S Saying jesus is white or black/dark skin is wrong just to prove a point.

    Facebook: Richard Ricks (cardinals picture)
    e-mail: rricp2OOO@aol.com please put in statue of liberty in the subject

    • http://www.allblackwoman.com admin

      Thanks for your comment Richard, naturally this is an open discussion so we appreciate all points given. Let me start by saying that you are correct in saying that we will never get the 100% truth because as the saying goes “history is written by the victors” meaning that the story is always written more favorable for the side of those who write it. I would not rely on television as the best source of information, the history and discover channels are good channels for information but that does not necessarily mean that they will cover all topics or all spectrums of a particular topics. I agree that what the statue of liberty stands for is important, however I think that the truth of it origin is even more so. I think that the true historical awareness of the statue is beneficial to both black and white because it enriches a history that we share together and rather than erasing any elements of other races cultural pride they should be celebrated by all of us together. From what can be gathered from all of the sources there is a lot more evidence for than against the black statue of liberty if you look at it on a fact by fact basis. I will not go over the points again as they are already detailed in the article.

      As a last point the objective of mentioning Jesus and Cleopatra, was not to point at whether it matter whether he was black or white but instead to use one of the clearest examples of how our perceptions and beliefs can be manipulated. We all know that given the location where Jesus was born and lived there is just no way he was blond with blue eyes, yet over the course of history you will see that the complexion of skin, hair and eyes of Jesus get light and lighter and lighter, until the point that the majority of churches show a pale white, blonde, blue eyes Jesus, which is not possible. I’m not arguing that he was black either, the point is here, is that we have to keep our minds open and think for ourselves based on real facts and not take what is simple handed to us on a plate with the label education. As education from many such large organizations as govt. or churches, have historically often been used to get the people to think and behave in the way that they want the masses to. Not necessarily to provide all with true “freedom” of information and knowledge.

      Again thank you for your comment, whether you agree or not, we are happy that this article at least serves to get people thinking :)

  • Richard

    Man I don’t like cell phones this is the 2nd I have to type this :(…

    The first thing I like to say it’s nice to find someone who knows what they are talking about I don’t get that to often! I would like to go on asking if you would like to have some debates with me if not it’s fine I just don’t get to ask that to often.

    But now back to the topic! Lol.

    I do agree with everything you said and to go on to say as you can tell i’m not like most people I like to keep an open mind on everything. Like Mont Rushmore not a lot of people know that the person who made/work on Rushmore was part of the kkk and how Henry Ford and Hitler where friends and that Ford sent 50k to Hitler for his birthday.

    The t.v part you will never hear me disagree on that subject. I did say I know what you see on t.v isn’t always right. They could be wrong on the fact that they just don’t know or have no proof to back it up or just be dead wrong.

    But when it comes to the history of the world and black people they got f’ed over so hardcore when it come to art work writings and just not plan fair and it sucks! Their a lot of things in this world that People don’t understand on how many things that the black community give us to make are life better today!

    Now back to the statue. If I ever find out that the statue should of been black I would do my best to give that type of info to the world. Plus that would be great to know and learn something new!

    I do understand what your trying to say about Jesus and where he lived. But it looks like I didn’t take in the way you ment it so I would to say sorry for that mistake. so if you want talk about area that Jesus lived you have to look at what type of people who lived in the same area. The Romans, Egypytian, Asians, and Africans. I’m sure we both get the picture on that. So I would have to go with he’s light/darkskin…

    But when it all comes to it I hope that you and I and the rest of the world will find the truth! But I would like to say thank you to you and my sister. You two are the reason why I learned a lot in a short period of time! So one more time thank you……

    • http://www.allblackwoman.com All Black Woman

      You’re most welcome Richard and thanks for participating on this discussion. That’s the whole point, if the people have a voice and make it heard it begins to churn a discussion and thoughts. This is what makes the truth more difficult to hide, the peoples demand to find it. I appreciate that you shared your thoughts on this article, as it enriches the content for the reader who is left to make their own choices not just from the article alone but also from the content of the responses and in turn we are also able to learn from you too. What is beautiful is that a white Irish man male a black Jamaican female – along with our other commenters from their respective regions – are able to discuss a racial sensitive matter, without any racial tension, anger or aggression, highlighting at in the end black or white we simply want truth.

      I won’t mention Jesus again as I think he wants to be left alone now :) Thank you for acknowledging that unfortunately black history, arts and culture has been tampered with greatly. This means that we have to really look deep to find a lot of lost and hidden truth and also to dissolve misconceptions that black people have not added any value to this world.

      Your compliment is highly appreciate and we hope that you will visit us again to challenge us on some of our other topics ;)

      Have a wonderful weekend!

  • corey

    Why did the move the chain from her hand but keep in on her feet when its impossible for u too see it. #IM NOT RACIST BUT BLACK WOMEN RULE

    • nicole

      Wow I’m 30 years old and I’m just now finding out this info wow knowledge is power

  • disqus_LUBvXtHsGx

    I thank you for posting this information I’m 55 and did’t know this! I have a TV talk show in mobile al. I showed this on my show. Keep up the good work! I’m on utube the jazzy red show
    I have a book published a own 3 bus. A welder of 37 years my phone is 251 776-0401 free TV ads for bus. People. God bless!

    • http://www.allblackwoman.com/ All Black Woman

      Thanks Jazzy Red, I see that you are doing some good work also, keep it up sis and thanks for making your voice heard.

      • disqus_LUBvXtHsGx

        I asked god to give me a voice in my community he did! My book is published. I own jazzy red limo service LLC. I own jazzy red publishing and productions LLC. Jazzy red talk show LLC (Comcast cable channel 6). I produce, film and edit 2 shows I film a church at no cost. The lady pastor will be on my utube the jazzy red show by friday. Hey did you know that there is a book published that shows that Booker T. Washington was poised? The name of the book is Death in 60 days , who poised. Booker T. Washington? The author is my best friend! People fly her all over the world! Black and white! It is a top seller ! Get the book on Amazon. Her name is Paulett Horton she is on my utube now click on a bright skin lady with a red blue blouse on. Skull and bones Boyle NAACP and more had a hand in it. Call me. I won’t put my phone number on here you have that on the first email I sent you. I’m old I have learned to trust nobody! So un till you call me I won’t reply. Pull up willie lynch. Jazzy red peace out!

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