Two years ago, Congress acknowledged the work and legacy of slaves in building the United States Capitol. President Barack Obama is now being called upon to do the same at the White House.
Enslaved Africans were acknowledges with plaques in the new visitor center’s Emancipation Hall, which is located outside the Senate and House Chambers; their work was aslso commemorated through a study by a Congressional task force led by Civil Rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) commented “It was a shameful omission that visitors to the Capitol could tour the building to learn its history, but not learn that slave labor was used in its construction.”
President Obama has managed to field questions and comments dealing with America’s troubled history with slavery deftly and with caution. But is now the time for him to comment accurately on the Capitol’s history and recognize the work of slaves who dug the foundation for the White House?