No, Caribbean statue unveiled in 2007 not ‘original version’ of Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty in New York is a famous US landmark that commemorates the centennial of the country’s 1776 declaration of independence from Britain.

It was proposed by French national Edouard de Laboulaye and constructed in France.

But was the original Statue of Liberty actually of a black woman, given by France but rejected by the US?

That’s the claim in a meme shared on Facebook in South Africa.

It shows two statues. One is of a black woman in white robes, holding up a lamp in her left hand. The caption reads: “Given to us by France to pay homage to the slaves whom were brought here by force.”

The second is the Statue of Liberty. It’s captioned: “The original was refused by America, so they made a new one with a white face.”

‘Towering form of a Caribbean woman’

But a reverse image search tracks the first statue down to the Caribbean island of St Martin

Titled Lady Liberty, it was created by sculptor Theodore Bonev and unveiled in 2007 to mark the 159th anniversary of the abolition of slavery on the French side of the island.

St Martin is the French side, and St Maarten the Dutch side of the island.

The 4 June 2007 edition of the Daily Herald, a St Martin newspaper, reports on the statue’s unveiling.

“The stunning beauty and elegance of Lady Liberty, unveiled to mark the 159th anniversary of emancipation from slavery on the French Side, left the gathering at Agrément roundabout in awe Sunday afternoon,” it reads.

“Holding up a lantern in her toned, strong left hand to give light, the towering form of a Caribbean woman with short, curly hair in a flowing white dress dwarfs everything around her as she watches over the village.”

Symbol of emancipation

Since 2007, celebrations of the end of slavery have been regularly held at the statue, according to Daily Herald reports.

In 2017 Lady Liberty was damaged in a hurricane, and the newspaper reported on the repairs.

Other photos of the statue can be found on blogs and websites.

The Statue of Liberty was unveiled in 1886, and Lady Liberty in 2007 – 121 years later. The second could not be the original, rejected version of the first. – Mary Alexander


 

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