The Statue of Liberty was created by Édouard de Laboulaye, a French abolitionist, to celebrate the end of slavery.
De Laboulaye came up with the idea to present the statue to the United States after the Civil War—once slavery was outlawed. But soon after the Civil War the South regained its footing and Blacks were oppressed, terrorized, and murdered.
Lady Liberty initially held broken shackles to signify the broken chains of slavery. Instead she holds a tablet and is now considered to be a symbol of immigration. The chains eventually made their way into the final version down around her feet, the original significance lost to most people.
This year, France is sending New York a smaller version of the statue to be placed on Ellis Island just across the water from Liberty Island where the original stands. But African Americans are still fighting to have our history accurately taught in schools.
We are still fighting to be the country Édouard de Laboulaye thought we were becoming when slavery ended. And we are still fighting to live up to the promise Lady Liberty has symbolized to millions of immigrants fighting oppression.