- Black Liberty -

The Truth Behind The Statue.

For my Masters Project at the London College of Fashion I undertook the study of African American History, As part of my exploratory analysis of African American History I noticed that during the Centennial Celebrations for the Statue of Liberty, the overwhelming majority of the literature associated with the monument omit any notion of the abolitionist movements involvement in its formation, despite the fact that in New York City Labolaye was aided with the design by the Anti-Slavery Union League.

Additionally during the statue’s inauguration the abolitionist societies praised the newly unveiled “goddess of liberty” as a “tribute to the Union Victory and abolition of Slavery” as did Albert W. Lefaivre, a guest speaker who noted it “ended the emancipation of 5 million brethren.”

There may not be categorical evidence to state whether or not the Statue of Liberty was to have been an African American female but it was certainly meant to represent an end to slavery and the original model did possess the facial features of an African woman and in broken shackles.

As the United States only accepted the gift, after Bartholdi removed the chains from her arm (replacing it with a tablet inscribed with the date of the United States Declaration of Independence) and made her facial features and overall design more European it is highly suggestive that the rumours she was originally meant to portray a freed African American are true.

The concept of the film was to give Liberty a voice, as for nearly 125 years she has been silenced. I chose Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruits for the potent lyrical content, which hauntingly vocalized the horrific acts of racial violence and prejudice towards African Americans. Billy Holidays rendition of the song was selected as her voice conveys the emotion not only of the lyrics but also of the inequality she was suffering at the time, ironically some 60 years after Liberty was created to represent African American equality.

Alex Bland

“Somewhere between film, performance and historical dream sequence, this short film is the thoughtful meditation on race, identity and history and sets out to create a thought-provoking response to the African American struggle. Set to the sound of Billie Holidays Strange Fruits. The film reveals the hidden history of the Statue of Liberty, which as the film-makers research reveals, might have looked very different” - Nilgin Yusuf

I am just...

I am not a spectacle,
To be watched, analysed and discussed.
I am not a punch bag,
To be beaten, battered and bust.
I am not a whisper,
Talked behind ones back

I am not a robot,
Void of emotion, simply fact.
I am not a timepiece,
Wound up constantly.
I am not a clue,
To be searched for and to see.

I am not a object,
For sale or to lease.
I am just a person,
Neither beauty nor the beast.


You’re my match, but you’ve struck out,
A wasted journey, no shadow of doubt,
Your personality’s changed, you say I’m flawed.
Pick up the phone, irony’s called.
You sit, you sit and debate me; I question how long did, did you hate me?

You’re colder than ice, but you’re not cool,
I played the jester, but you’re the fool.
You’re my mirror, the reflection’s mauled,
The cracks are showing, the shatters applaud.
I got to know, got to know you lately; my knowledge of you increased, increased greatly.

You break the rules, when it suits you,
You fiddle the deck, we both know it’s true.
You fake a smile, with the people you meet,
In the game of life, you clearly cheat.
You play with the hearts, the hearts of the pack; well now I know, know to watch my back.

In biblical terms, you’re the snake in the grass,
Tempting me daily, this time I’ll pass.
Like an apple you are, rotten to the core,
You walk over people, like they’re the floor.
It was fun but the game, the game has ended, the board is broken and can never, never be mended.

(by Alex Bland -

the desert cries.

From the blink of life, to an old ones death,
We walk this planet, on a borrowed breath.
Like the wind, we flow through places,
We change pace, as we do faces.
Some tempt with gifts, well received,
Others do good, though never perceived.
Many swear, by an almighty belief,
Few take warmth, in methodical relief.
We look upon, our own reflection,
See lights shadow, truths imperfection.
Were but the lamb, thrown to a slaughter
For in this world, the desert cries for water.

-Alex Bland