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Stone marker installed in U.S. Capitol acknowledging contribution of slaves to building it

Washington, Wed, 29 Feb 2012 ANI

Washington, Feb.29 (ANI): Slaves helped build the U.S. Capitol in Washington, an irony that was recognized Tuesday with the dedication of a stone marker calling attention to their role in constructing the Americans most cherished monument to freedom.


The sandstone marker that was once a part of the Capitol was dedicated in the Capitol Visitor Center's Emancipation Hall, the Los Angeles Times reports.


"For too long, the sacrifice of men and women who built this temple of democracy were overlooked; their toil forgotten; their story ignored or denied, and their voices silenced in the pages of history,'' House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco said at the ceremony.


She added: "Yet today, we join together to strive to right this wrong of our past, to honor the sacrifice of these laborers, to lay down a marker of gratitude and respect for those who built the walls of the Capitol.''


Legislation also has been introduced calling for the design and placement in the visitors center of an "unknown slave" statue, to further recognize the contributions of slaves in building the Capitol.


Rep. Gary Ackerman, the bill's author, said the statue would be "an acknowledgment of truth and an important symbol showing that the United States does not hide from its history, but rather learns from it."


A similar Ackerman bill, introduced in the last Congress, never made it to the House floor.


Ackerman also recently wrote President Obama urging him to display in the White House a recognition of the role of slaves in its building.


The block of sandstone dedicated Tuesday was part of the Capitol's East Front portico, which was completed in 1826. It had been in storage since the late 1950s, according to the Architect of the Capitol. (ANI)


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