For immediate release
January 4, 2023
Contact: Julie Langan
Department of Historic Resources
RICHMOND – Following a lengthy national search, the Commission for Historical Statues in the United States Capitol today announced that Maryland sculptor Steven Weitzman of Weitzman Studios has been chosen as the sculptor for the Barbara Rose Johns statue. The bronze statue will be installed as one of Virginia’s two contributions to the Statuary Hall Collection at the United States Capitol.
Chair Senator Louise Lucas acknowledged that Weitzman was the unanimous choice of the Commission. “His obvious passion for this project and his articulation of Barbara John’s legacy evoked an emotional response from the Commission. After his moving presentation, the decision to offer this commission to Weitzman was quickly and easily reached,” said Lucas.
Most of Wednesday’s meeting was devoted to a discussion of the design concept for the bronze sculpture which will depict Johns at age 16 when, in 1951, she led a student strike for equal education at R.R. Moton High School in Farmville. Weitzman’s proposed concept shows Johns on the school stage, standing beside a lectern. The spines of books can be seen beneath the wood floorboards and Johns is holding a book in her uplifted hand. The design will be slightly modified in response to comments offered by the Commission as well as members of the Johns family who were in attendance and will remain in engaged throughout the design process. Once a design has been approved by the Commission, it will be submitted to the Architect of the Capitol and the Joint Committee on Libraries for final approval.
Weitzman, who is known for his bronze sculptures, has received several prestigious commissions, including a bronze sculpture of Frederick Douglass that was permanently installed in the United States Capitol. Another DC example of Weitzman’s work is his heroic-sized bronze sculpture commemorating the life and work of DC Mayor Marion S. Barry, Jr. which is permanently installed outside of the John A. Wilson building on Pennsylvania Avenue. When speaking of the prestigious Johns commission he said, “”Barbara Rose Johns led an extraordinary act of non-violent civil disobedience which helped to ignite the American Civil Rights Movement. As was the case for numerous Black youths of the Jim Crow era, this brave young woman has not been celebrated in the great halls of America until now.”
Information about the Commission can be found on the Commission’s webpage at https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/uscapitolcommission/ The Department of Historic Resources, the Commonwealth’s historic preservation agency, provides administrative support to the Commission. Any questions concerning the Commission should be directed to the agency.
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Originally posted: January 4, 2023
Updated: January 4, 2023