LANSING, Mich. —Today, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D–Flint) and the Michigan Senate Democratsannounced that they are calling for the removal of the statue of Lewis Cass from National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol. Each state is permitted to commission and submit two statues of prominent figures who represent its history, and Senate Democrats agree that it is time to replace Lewis Cass with someone who is a better representation of Michigan’s values as they stand today.
“Those who are chosen to represent our great state in the hallowed space of Statuary Hall should embody the very best of our history, society and ideals,” Sen. Ananich said. “A former slave owner is not that. Michigan’s history is full of brave civil rights activists, Native American leaders and innovators who would much better reflect our state’s values as we hold them today.”
During his life, Lewis Cass held a number of public offices, including Governor of the Michigan Territory, U.S. Senator, and U.S. Secretary of State. He was a slave owner and advocated for President Jackson’s forced migration policy of Indian Removal. As our country collectively grapples with systemic racism that continues to harm people of color, it’s critical that Michigan makes a statement that slavery and forced migration are not elements of our history of which to be proud.
The display of state-donated statues in Statuary Hall is a national tradition dating back to 1865. A statue of President Gerald R. Ford is Michigan’s second contribution to Statuary Hall, and statues of prominent Michiganders Rosa Parks and Sojourner Truth are also featured in the U.S. Capitol Building. To place or replace a statue, states must initiate a resolution to identify the citizen to be commemorated, the sculptor, and how the project will be funded. Senate Democrats are in the beginning stages of this process and look forward to announcing an individual who represents the best of Michigan’s proud progressive history on civil rights.
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