“The Goddess of Democracy,” a statue memorializing the more than 100 million victims of communism worldwide, now resides in the Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship. The statue is on loan from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization which seeks to raise awareness about the dangers of communism.
According to Matthew Spalding, vice president of Washington operations and dean of the Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship, the VOC needed a place for the cast until it could be moved to the organization’s museum, which is scheduled to open later this year.
“Instead of putting it in storage, the Kirby Center can display the statue as a piece of art and a loan of great significance,” Spalding said.
According to Dani Urankar, operations associate for VOC, the original statue was created by Chinese art students and democracy demonstrators in May 1989. Constructed in four days from foam and papier-mache, the 33-foot tall statue was destroyed by a tank during the government crackdown on June 4, 1989, in Tiananmen Square.
After the fact, sculptor Thomas Marsh made a series of bronze replicas of “The Goddess of Democracy” and erected them in cities around the world, Urankar said in an email.
In 1993, the U.S. Congress unanimously passed legislation authorizing the design and construction of the statue in Washington, D.C., to honor those who suffered under communism. The statue, which is located on the corner of New Jersey Ave NW and Massachusetts Ave NW on Capitol Hill, was dedicated in 2007 by President George W. Bush. The Kirby Center is hosting the original cast of the D.C. statue.
Claire Marr, executive assistant and programs coordinator at the Kirby Center, said Hillsdale is grateful for the opportunity to partner with VOC and defend against communism.
“There are partnerships across all of D.C.,” Marr said. “It’s been great to see these small gestures of friendship to defend freedom.”
Lee Edwards, the co-founder and chair emeritus of the VOC, gave a presentation when the cast was placed in the Kirby Center and spoke about the history and symbolism of the statue, according to Spalding.
“This statue was an important symbol for China and was modeled after the Statue of Liberty,” Spalding said. “It keeps the question of communist rule alive and helps us remember that this problem is not resolved.”
Located by the central stairwell of the Kirby Center, the 10-foot cast is on display with a sign explaining its history serves as a reminder to the students who pass it on their way to classes everyday, Spalding said.
“Students and visitors can read the story, learn, and be reminded about the importance of protecting human rights and democracy,” Spalding said. “We need to uphold liberty around the world.”