LETTER: Harriet Tubman Statue is Precisely about Race and Gender


The Maryland legislature has a chance to select a new famous Marylander to stand in National Statuary Hall in our nation’s capitol. Currently, John Hanson and Charles Carroll, both colonial-era patriots, represent Maryland in National Statuary Hall. Since each state is only allowed two statues in National Statuary Hall the current bill to send a statue of Harriet Tubman to the U.S. Capitol would require the statue of John Hanson be returned to Annapolis. Senator Mike Miller is against the bill calling the effort “insane” and claiming the effort is rewriting history.

Senator Miller is correct. This effort, initiated by Equal Visibility Everywhere and Maryland NOW, is about history. It’s about writing women back into history. Women, who comprise over 52% of our nation’s citizens, are ignored in our own government’s depiction of history in the U.S. Capitol Building. The Capitol frieze and the enormous paintings surrounding the Rotunda, which depict the history of the United States, portray only one recognizable woman: Pocahontas. In Statuary Hall itself there is only one woman out of 38 statues, and only 9 women in the entire Collection of 100 statues displayed throughout the Capitol.

Senator Miller claims the effort to put Harriet Tubman in National Statuary Hall isn’t about race or gender. It is precisely about race and gender. There are few women in National Statuary Hall and not a single African-American in National Statuary Hall. It’s time for John Hanson and Charles Carroll to step aside and give the women of Maryland a chance to shine. They each have stood in National Statuary Hall for over one hundred years. Maryland has been home to many great women including Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring and founder of the environmental movement, and Harriet Tubman, a runaway slave, who had the courage to be a conductor on the Underground Railroad and lead many slaves to freedom. Why are the contributions of these women and other great Maryland women considered less significant than that of two colonial patriots? It’s time for a change. Fair is fair.

America is more than colonial history. It’s time to represent all of our history and all our of citizens. Voting in favor of Harriet Tubman would not only correct the past but send a message to the millions of visitors to our nation’s Capitol each year that the contributions of girls and women are important, equally important.

Dr. Lynette Long is President of Equal Visibility Everywhere the organization that conceptualized the project to put Harriet Tubman in National Statuary Hall. She is also a licensed psychologist in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Lynette Long, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Chevy Chase, Md.

Dr. Long's Letter is in response to the following articles:

Effort to Get Harriet Tubman into Statuary Hall Runs into Opposition, Feb. 3, 2011

Supporters of Harriet Tubman Statue Prepare for a Political Fight, Feb. 8, 2011

Tubman or Hanson: Whose Story in Statuary Hall? Feb. 19, 2011

Search for more stories about Harriet Tubman

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