Slave Labor Task Force Issues Report to House Panel

On November 7, 2007, the House Administration Committee held a hearing on the role slave labor played in the construction of the United States Capitol. The Slave Laborers Task Force, chaired by Representative John Lewis (D-GA), submitted a report and recommendations to the Committee on how to best commemorate the contribution of enslaved African Americans in building the Capitol.

The Task Force recommended:

  • Commemorative plaques and building stone, quarried by slave labor, placed in or near the Capitol Visitors Center (CVC) and/or the U.S. Capitol;
  • Pamphlet on the history of slave labor in the Capitol, focusing particularly on the kinds of work assigned to slaves;
  • Exhibition in the U.S. Capitol on the experience of 19th century African Americans both as slave laborers and as Members of Congress;
  • Educational/informational brochure cards highlighting individual 19th century African Americans in the Capitol;
  • Online exhibit that creates a virtual version of the Capitol exhibition (above), with the addition of educational materials for students and teachers;
  • Training of the Capitol Guide Servidce on interpreting the experience of African Americans as slave laborers and Members;
  • Online publication of the Task Force’s report on the history of slave laborers at the Capitol;
  • Black Americans in Congress, scheduled to be published by the House of Representatives in 2008, providing extensive material on the experience of African Americans in the Capitol, and be accompanied by a website and educational materials;
  • Designation of the great hall of the Capitol Visitors Center as Emancipation Hall