Who Is Lady Liberty, And What Does She Want?
7/8/2020

The Statue of Liberty is nearly 140 years old, but she's enjoying renewed relevance in the Trump era. In announcing hostile immigration policies, Trump administration officials have been questioned about Emma Lazarus' famous poem "The New Colossus" and its message about the monument in New York Harbor. Last year, Acting Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli said on NPR’s Morning Edition, "Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and will not become a public charge. That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the same time as the first public charge law was passed.That's a common nativist response to both the statue and poem, and it reveals some of the different ways the Statue of Liberty has reflected different attitudes towards migrants since 1886.

Paul Kramer is a professor of history at Vanderbilt University who has written about the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty and how it intersects with views of immigration in US history. Last year, he and Brooke visited Liberty Island and reflected on her different meanings and portrayals in American history. For this week's podcast extra, we're re-airing that segment.

You can read Professor Kramer's piece in Slate on President Reagan and the Statue of Liberty here. You can watch his presentation on the history of the three statues (The Guardian Statue, the Exile Statue, and the Imperial Statue) here.

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