Protest Sculpture at the Adams Building, Library of Congress

Protest Sculpture at the Adams Building, Library of Congress

by Larry Janezich

Protest art is everywhere, but protest sculpture is rare, which makes the piece in a fire box at the southeast corner of the Adams Building at 3rd and Independence noteworthy. 

The assemblage tableau represents Thomas Jefferson holding a key, standing next to a shackled Sally Hemings with two children and a commentary on her and her children’s servitude and Jefferson’s parentage.

It’s not clear who”s responsible other than appended signature “Fearless Girls 2020.” 

The original Fearless Girl is the famous NYC sculpture initially placed at Bowling Green facing down the Charging Bull statue, and later moved to a location where it faces the NY Stock Exchange. 

For more on Sally Hemings, see Wiki here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Hemings

After the British burned the Capitol and its Library during the war of 1812, Congress purchased Thomas Jefferson’s library to replace it.  Initially housed in the Capitol, it was subsequently moved to its own structure across the street.  In 1938, construction of the Library Annex (now the Adams Building) was complete.  On the anniversary of the birthday of Jefferson on April 13, 1976, President Ford signed a law to change the name of the Library of Congress Annex Building to the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building. The building was renamed for President John Adams in 1980 – Adams had approved the law establishing the Library of Congress. 

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4 responses to “Protest Sculpture at the Adams Building, Library of Congress

  1. Claire Adams

    There is another one of Jefferson and Sally Hemings, shackled with similar language on my corner at 5th and Constitution, NE (the SE corner)

  2. I happened onto this one the other day and learned about another. Now I’m looking everywhere. Please if anyone has more sightings or background I am researching for a podcast on protest and art and neighborhoods… Auldton Laughing Club. I welcome your leads and thoughts! https://www.instagram.com/myonegoodturn/