Commission for Historical Statues Approves Model of Forthcoming Barbara Rose Johns Statue for U.S. Capitol

Published February 28, 2024
Full-scale model of Barbara Rose Johns Statue for the U.S. Capitol

The full-scale model of the forthcoming Barbara Rose Johns statue for the U.S. Capitol.

Virginia Department of Historic Resources
(dhr.virginia.gov)
For Immediate Release
February 28, 2024

Contact:
Ivy Tan
Department of Historic Resources
Marketing & Communications Manager
ivy.tan@dhr.virginia.gov
804-482-6445

—The Commission’s recent decision brings Virginia one step closer to her goal of installing a statue of the civil rights leader in the National Statuary Hall of the Capitol—

RICHMOND – At its meeting on February 24, 2024, the Commission on Historical Statues in the United States Capitol approved the full-scale clay model of the statue of Barbara Rose Johns. The Commission’s decision on Saturday paves the way for the state to seek approval of the model from the Architect of the Capitol (AOC). The model was created by sculptor Steven Weitzman. A foundry in Chester, Pennsylvania, will begin the work to cast the bronze statue of Johns for display in the National Statuary Hall after the AOC approves the model.

The statue of Johns will occupy a space in the Statuary Hall of the Capitol building where a statue of Robert E. Lee once stood. The Statuary Hall Collection exhibits two representative statues for each state in the nation. Virginia’s other statue is of George Washington.

Born in 1935, Barbara Rose Johns became legendary for her civil rights activism when she was a 16-year-old student at Prince Edward County’s segregated Robert Russa Moton High School. In 1951, Johns led a student walkout to protest the overcrowded and dilapidated facilities at the school. Conditions at Moton High School were vastly inferior to those at the county’s high school for white students. The Virginia NAACP soon stepped in to lead a lawsuit on the students’ behalf seeking to end segregation. The resulting case, known as Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward, was the only student-initiated case to be consolidated into Brown v. Board of Education, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that public school segregation was unconstitutional.

During Saturday’s meeting, Commission members received feedback on the full-scale model from family members of Barbara Johns, who passed away in 1991. The Johns family have been advising Weitzman throughout the creative process and expressed their satisfaction with the model’s embodiment of the likeness of its subject. Joan Johns Cobbs, sister of Barbara, thanked the sculptor for including the family in the design process.

More information regarding the Commission and its work can be found here.

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