They Want More Women Set In Stone In U.S. Capitol

By Richard Simon
Los Angeles Times.


The U.S. Capitol, home to inspiring statues of Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, Ronald Reagan.

And Lucille Ball?

A group seeking to increase the number of women represented in the Capitol’s collection of statues includes the red-headed comedian on a list of California women who should be considered for Washington’s version of a national hall of fame.

Since 1864, each state has been authorized to place statues of two of its distinguished deceased citizens in the Capitol.

Some are well-known figures such as humorist Will Rogers, who represents Oklahoma. But many are obscure. Take Julius Sterling Morton (the founder of Arbor Day), who represents Nebraska.

In recent years, states have moved to bring in better-known figures. Iowa last month substituted a statue of Norman Borlaug, known as the father of the Green Revolution, for a likeness of James Harlan, a 19th-century senator and Interior secretary.

California was among the first states to swap statues, bringing in Reagan in 2009 in place of Thomas Starr King, who had stood in the Capitol since 1931 but often drew puzzled looks. King, whose statue now resides in Sacramento, was a Unitarian minister who helped keep California in the Union.

The group, Equal Visibility Everywhere, which aims to promote gender parity in the symbols and icons of the United States, has been working to increase the number of women represented in the Capitol’s collection, a popular tourist attraction.

Of the 100 statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection, nine are women, though Kansas plans to add a 10th, aviator Amelia Earhart.

Alabama in 2009 brought in Helen Keller, depicted as a 7-year-old holding her hand under a water pump in a scene made famous by the movie “The Miracle Worker.” (A statue of Rosa Parks was installed in the Capitol last year, but that is separate from the Statuary Hall collection.)

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