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Towards Freedom

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

“As the lady arose, she lengthened her spine, drew back her shoulders, and steadied her gaze toward an illuminated horizon. In the bend of her elbow she held on tightly to tablets, while a shackle and chain remained affixed to her ankle…yet she stepped towards freedom.”

Who am I referring to? Lady Libertas, The Statue of Liberty, the one who adorns New York’s harbor. She represents the liberty, or freedom of the formerly enslaved in the United States of America.

In 1887, France gifted the Statue of Liberty to the United States to commemorate America's centennial, the emancipation of formerly enslaved people, and the relationship between the two countries.

According to, “originally the sculptor planned to place the chains in the Statue’s left hand…Bartholdi opted to place the chains and shackles at the feet of Lady Liberty to symbolize Liberty breaking free from bondage.”

Were you taught about this in school? I wasn’t. I was taught the story of immigrants, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty in a perfectly crafted narrative that conveniently left out the part about the formerly enslaved. I am a U.S. citizen and a descendant of people who were enslaved here. This statue represents a reckoning with a torrid past; reaching for the tools that would create a more perfect union. But no! America left out the part about the enslaved. America framed Liberty’s purpose as solely for welcoming the new immigrant. America omitted a small detail. That pertinent detail is still attached to her ankle and it cannot be omitted from view.



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