The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Capitol Building:
A “Symbol of Democracy”?

Jan 18, 2021

Joe Biden said that those individuals from right-wing organizations like the KKK who stormed the U.S. Capitol building, “do not reflect the true America.” In fact, the history of the Capitol building itself shows the opposite.

Inside the Capitol dome, there are frescoes, friezes, and giant oil paintings portraying scenes from U.S. history. They show European explorers and “founding fathers,” as if they are the only ones who built the country. Some depict Indians, as if they were “saved” by these explorers: one even shows Pocahontas kneeling for baptism, surrounded by standing white men.

They do not show slavery at all. No Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, or Sojourner Truth. The only representation of a black person in the whole Capitol Rotunda is a small bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Only in 2012 was a small marker placed in a corner of the re-named “Emancipation Hall,” commemorating the work of the enslaved people who did much of the work to build the Capitol.

The official website of the Capitol gives a long description of its construction that leaves out any mention of the enslaved people who laid foundations. Instead, it makes it sound as if architects “completed the work” themselves. You have to go to a separate section of the website, about the 2012 historical marker, to learn that “the majority of the work fell upon the laborers in the area, who were comprised mostly of African American slaves.”

Philip Reid, a slave, even cast the Statue of Freedom statue on top of the Capitol dome, and figured out how to transport and install it!

Rich racists telling a “fake news” version of history, and asserting with their symbols that they’re the only ones with a right to this country?

American as the Capitol building itself!