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Fig 5.25 – Lady Liberty

Text: Page 200

The Statue of Liberty was gifted in 1886 by the French to symbolize the long history of friendship and revolutionary spirit between the two peoples. The real purpose, often lost or ignored, was to also celebrate the end of American slavery. Besides holding the Roman numerals for July 4, 1776, on the tablet in her hand, at the feet of Lady Liberty are broken chains, meant to symbolize the removal of chains from the feet of black American slaves.

Lady Liberty is rooted in mythology and religion. The sculptor, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, was inspired by the goddess Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. She was worshipped in ancient Rome, especially among the liberated and emancipated Roman slaves. The Statue of Freedom atop the dome of the U.S. Capitol is an ongoing reminder to our elected leaders that laws and governance should be inspired by her message of freedom and justice.

Lady Liberty evokes the Egyptian goddess Isis, the Roman Columbia, and the Christian Virgin Mary. Lady Liberty has been a powerful symbol for political revolution and for those seeking freedom and democracy throughout the world. Most recently, in 1989, Chinese students used the symbol, the Goddess of Democracy, in Tiananmen Square in a call for political reform, the end to corruption, and for building a more democratic Chinese society.

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