November 13, 2007

Senator Feinstein Co-Sponsors Legislation to Name Great Hall of Capitol Visitor Center “Emancipation Hall”

Feinstein believes legislation should be passed as quickly as possible

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today announced that she has co-sponsored legislation to name the Great Hall in the new Capitol Visitor Center “Emancipation Hall.” The name would serve to recognize the end of slavery in the United States, and to pay tribute to the enslaved people who helped to construct the Capitol building.

Senator Feinstein urged speedy passage of the legislation.

In addition, Senator Feinstein today stated her interest in working with the Congressional Slave Labor Task Force, which has recently produced a report providing a number of recommendations for acknowledging and commemorating the work that slaves performed in constructing the Capitol.

“The Capitol Visitor Center is nearing completion, and its Great Hall promises to be a spectacular place – an estimated 3 million people are expected to gather in the area as they come to visit our great Capitol each year,” Senator Feinstein said.

“Through large skylights in the ceiling, visitors will be able to look upwards and gaze upon the grand Capitol Dome. This environment is the perfect place for visitors to reflect upon the construction of the United States Capitol, and to recognize the slaves who helped to build it.”

“Naming the great hall of the Capitol Visitor Center as ‘Emancipation Hall’ would serve to recognize both the brutal truth of our nation’s past and the importance of freedom as a pillar of modern America.”

Senator Feinstein is chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee and the Joint Committee on the Library, which oversees Capitol artwork.

The legislation – S. 1679 – was introduced by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) on June 21, 2007, and is co-sponsored by Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

A companion bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) and Jesse Jackson (D-Ill.). The measure has over 225 co-sponsors in the House.