Did you know that slaves helped build the White House and the U.S. Capitol? Or that right in front of where Barack Obama is going to take his oath of office used to be a tent city for slaves and workers?
In his book, "Black Men Built the Capitol," Jesse Holland explores the "secret history" of Washington DC and tells stories of how slavery affected the nation's capital.
In this video, Holland tells some of their stories and ends by stating that the inauguration of Barack Obama as the president of the United States "closes a circle in American history to have an African-American taking the oath of office, and becoming the most powerful person in the United States, and yet still live in a building that was built by some of the least powerful people in the United States, African-American slaves."
"One of the things that I found was that actual African-American slaves were used in the construction of the U.S. Capitol and the White House. Out of just about the 600 or so people who worked on the Capitol, maybe about 400 were African-American slaves." -
Jesse Holland, "Black Men Built the Capitol"
"The area where Barack Obama is going to take his oath of office, right in front of that, there will be hundreds of thousands of people sitting in chairs. That area used to be a tent city for these slaves and workers." - Jesse Holland, "Black Men Built the Capitol"
"Most people look at the Statue of Freedom now and they think, this is the statue of an American Indian on top of the Capitol. No, it's not. It's actually a statue of a freed slave with an American eagle helmet on top." - Jesse Holland, "Black Men Built the Capitol"
"What a lot of people don't know about the National Mall, Capitol, Supreme Court area is that African-American slaves were held in bondage in slave jails on some of these sites." - Jesse Holland, "Black Men Built the Capitol"
1. What is slavery?
2. What role did slavery play in the construction of the U.S. Capitol?
3. When was slavery outlawed in the United States?
1. How does this video affect the way you think about the nation's capital?
2. How does it make you feel about the inauguration of Barack Obama?
3. How do you think the election of Barack Obama affects the legacy of slavery in the United States?