The poem inscribed inside the base of the Statue of Liberty has been a hot topic lately. Coincidentally, I filmed a video (episode 29) on this topic earlier this summer and it is on producer Aaron’s desk, preparing to be edited for my YouTube channel (connect with YouTube videos by clicking on the link on this website).
Here is an excerpt from my script that you might find interesting. We all could use a little background knowledge on “Lady Liberty’s history.
“The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to commemorate our centennial and the cause of liberty. America, 100 years old. The statue was named “Liberty Enlightening the World”. [Note: the statue was about liberty, not about immigration.]
The gift from France involved a joint partnership. France would build the statue and would assemble it here in the United States but the U.S. was responsible for building the pedestal. Funds were slow in coming on both sides of the ocean. France and the United States held various fundraising events. One of those events in our country was a fundraising art auction. Emma Lazarus was asked to write a sonnet for that fundraiser. She wrote“The New Colossus”. Ms. Lazarus, herself of Jewish heritage, worked as an aide to refugees. The depth of feeling in her sonnet was inspired by her work with Russian Jewish immigrants.”
Ms. Lazarus’ award winning poem was rediscovered 17 years after her death. A fundraiser was held and the poem was placed on a plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. The poem is not U.S law and is not our immigration policy. It is a symbol of liberty to the world.
I always encourage my students to go to primary sources for information, not just today’s news. You can find more about the Statue of Liberty at the National Park Service website: nps.gov