Statue of Liberty?

Elijah Robinson, Secretary

Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…—These words are etched on the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island, long thought to be a landmark of our immigrant wave in the late 1800’s & early 1900s. The story is more complicated than that, by design.
The architect of this statue was a French sculptor named Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. It was sent to the U.S. as a gift for their centennial of independence, which France played an integral role in.
When deciding how to best represent American freedom, Enlightenment principles and liberty, Barthholdi and his team went through a variety of symbolic gestures, such as the Pileus, a hat given to emancipated slaves in ancient Rome. However, Jefferson Davis, the Secretary of War at the time, and later President of the Confederate States of America, argued against it. As it could be seen as an abolitionist symbol.
After 1865, the Civil War was over, the Union won, and the slaves were freed. As a result, one of the finishing touches of this statue were broken shackles on the feet of Lady Liberty, symbolizing the end of slavery in America. And the end of oppression around the world. The shackle and chain at the right foot disappear into the dress, only to appear again in front of her left foot.
When it was completed on October 28, 1886, the Black press were aggrieved. They felt the ideas this monument represented did not apply to African-Americans during this time. This belief comes roughly ten years after the end of the botched Reconstruction period, and 20 years after the creation of Black codes, and the founding of the Ku Klux Klan. Needless to say, they were correct in their assumption.
Today, it is a symbol for the immigration period that took place during the late 1800s to early 1900s. Millions of immigrants from Europe passed by this statue hoping to benefit from the opportunity this monument represented for them.
Many people forget that fundamental piece of the statue that brings it all together. The chain that remains on the pedestal represents hope, as well as the reality that it is after all a symbol that is not indicative of the real status for millions of people in this country.