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Friday, April 20, 2018

Georgia State Capitol And A Look at Literacy Disparity

On my way to meet the gang in Georgia I stopped in Atlanta to see a few things that I missed on my visit there with Katrina in 2013.  On that trip we stopped at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site  , the Carlos Art Museum at Emory, and the Carter Presidential Library and Museum, click the links if you missed those posts.  That reminds me that my daughter Katrina and I haven't taken even a weekend getaway together in over a year now...guess I better get something on the schedule!

If you are not interested in the architecture information to follow, I urge you to skip ahead to the end where I have information about a cause I want to share with everybody please!

Ms. Freedom tops the 75 foot gilded dome of the Georgia State Capitol - she is 26 feet tall from her torch to her feet and weighs 1,600 pounds she carries a sword and a torch to commemorate the dead.  No one knew these specifications until she was removed in 2004 and sent to Canada for restoration!  At night her torch is lit, a retractable tube holding a light bulb is inside the hollow statue.

Statue of General John B. Gordon, first Governor to occupy the Capitol

The Capitol was completed in 1889, its exterior of Indiana limestone looking pretty good after more than one hundred years! Originally the dome was tin plated, the 43 ounces of gold necessary for the gilding was a donation from the  citizens from Dahlonega and Lumpkin County in 1958.  Unfortunately it was originally applied during the winter so it did not adhere properly and only lasted 19 years before having to be reapplied.  Now they reapply as needed when it starts to wear, and only ten other states have capitol domes covered with gold leaf: Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Corinthian columns and the Georgia State Seal carved on the triangular pediment

When I visited most of the entrances were closed for security reasons and I had to circle the building twice to find an open door. 

The interior is stately but simple, with Georgia marble and oak wood used throughout.  It was among the earliest buildings to feature elevators and centralized steam heat, what luxury those early figures of government had to work in compared to their peers in other states!

As I mentioned, I couldn't see much inside the Capitol due to security tightening.  This was due to the fact that former Governor Zell Miller had died and I actually passed his casket which was under guard.  If you want to know more, here is a link about the Governor and his passing.

Clerestory windows to admit light in the atrium

I don't think there was anything I missed of interest though.  I didn't find any information online about murals or pieces of art.  I did find the rotunda interesting with its pilasters on the wall which give the appearance of columns.

Most of the art is truly in the public's eye here, on display outside competing with the blossoming trees.

One of the statues is of former President Carter, amazing ambassador for peace who is still with us at age 93.

Another statue puzzled me, and I had to read the plaque to find out its meaning.

The “Expelled Because of Their Color” monument sculpted by John Riddle is dedicated to the 33 original African-American Georgia legislators who were elected in the first election (1868) after the Civil war. Black citizens were now allowed to vote, but there was no law that allowed black representatives to hold office. The 33 black men who were elected to the General Assembly were expelled from office. Symbolizing the whole struggle for African Americans in Georgia to vote, the first tier depicts a sailing ship full of slaves arriving in Georgia. The second tier shows black soldiers who served in the American Revolution. On the next level antebellum columns represent southern plantation life. A pregnant woman next to a ballet box symbolizes future generations on the top level.

I am always appalled and then awed by the struggle that black people have had to undergo in this country.  Unfortunately their struggle still continues.  Recently I was listening to NPR and heard about something that inspired me.  Alvin Irby founded Barbershop Books which provides books to 100 barbershops in black neighborhoods across the country.  The goal is to help black boys ages 4-8 identify as readers, something that is desperately needed especially in Wisconsin.  Wisconsin posted the second largest gap across the whole nation on the national standardized test for fourth grade reading for the difference between white students and black students. Only Washington DC scored worse for disparity between the reading competency of black and white students.

I donated $50 to their cause, and I urge you to go to this link  for Barbershop Books and donate also! If you are interested in helping girls grow up strong, I always recommend helping out the Girl Scouts in any way you can.  I know in Milwaukee they have an Urban department which specifically works to get girls from impoverished neighborhoods in Girl Scouts so they can become confident young women someday and even has staff leaders to lead the troops since these neighborhoods seldom have the ability to have parent-led troops.

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