Have you ever walked by the Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square and wondered about the massive hand sculpture that sits just outside the building? Artist Jim Fauntleroy was paid $1,800 to create the piece in 1968; according to a Washington Post interview conducted the same year, he “started with the fingers and it was kind of hit or miss until we got the hang of it.”
The sculpture, or, “The Hand,” was commissioned by the South Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) for the Poor People’s Campaign, the first nationally oriented civil rights demonstration to take place in D.C. following the August 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Though commissioned for the campaign’s Resurrection City Encampment on the National Mall – according to the same Post article it was intended to “have pointed symbolically to the Capitol” – it was never installed. After spending decades near the Takoma, D.C. home of activist and SCLC leader Vincent DeForest, the sculpture was moved to Mt. Vernon Square and has been accessible to passersby outside the Historical Society since 2008.
Interested in finding out more about the SCLC and the Poor People’s campaign? You’re in luck: In addition to pieces such as an article about black dressmakers of the 1860s and tributes to Joseph Grano and the Washington Informer, there’s an incredible piece all about the campaign and its tumultuous aftermath in the current issue of Washington History.
While member copies of the semi-annual magazine have already been distributed, individual issues are available online as well as for sale in the Kiplinger Research Library – come on by! If you’re not yet a member, please consider joining the Society in order to receive the next issues – Spring 2015 and Fall 2015 – through the mail as soon as they’re released.