The Fourth of July is never short on massive firework displays, family gatherings, and parades. This date commemorates America’s independence from Britain and also marks the day France presented the Statue of Liberty to the United States. While the history of the Statue of Liberty is taught in classrooms around the country, one important aspect of her tale is left out. The original Statue of Liberty was a Muslim woman.
To celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal, sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi was first commissioned to create a statue. “Egypt Carrying the Light to Asia” was the statue’s initial title because it was intended to be used as a lighthouse. The statue was created to resemble an enslaved woman in a gown and veil. She was standing with broken chains at her feet and a small torch in her hand to represent King Isma’il Pasha of Egypt as the liberator of slaves and his realm as a place of freedom. At the time, Egypt was unable to fund the project and scratched it entirely. Frédéric still held onto his sketches, hoping his dream would become a reality. And it did.
French activist Edouard de Laboulaye hired Frédéric to create a statute. Ironically, Edouard wanted a statue to be built as a gift to the United States to commemorate President Lincoln and the emancipation of slaves. Instead of keeping his original sketches, Frédéric removed the shackles and revised the statue to resemble the Roman Goddess Liberte. This statute became the statute that we are familiar with today.
The traditional view of the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of American freedom and values. This viewpoint oversimplifies the gift’s importance and original intent. We make a significant advancement toward decolonizing our history by embracing the statue’s Egyptian heritage.
The erasure of American and Muslim history is facilitated by removing this portion of the Statue of Liberty’s past. The traditional view of the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of American freedom and values. This viewpoint oversimplifies the gift’s importance and original intent. We make a significant advancement toward decolonizing our history by embracing the statue’s Egyptian heritage. Additionally, the statute’s commemoration of the abolition of slavery in both the United States and Egypt is significant.
By keeping the history of the Statue of Liberty a secret, we continue to foster a restricted perspective of world history. We keep the stories apart so that we may rewrite history to fit our prejudiced viewpoint. Covering up the statue of liberty’s history begs the question of just how many stories we don’t know the full truth about. But history is not something that can be cherry-picked, the truth is always revealed.