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Living in Emma Lazarus’s Home, Sharing Her Values

Emma Lazarus. Engraving by T. Johnson, 1872. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Emma Lazarus. Engraving by T. Johnson, 1872.

By Martha Wilkie

Author Andrew Solomon lives in the Village with his family in the former home of Emma Lazarus, author of the poem inscribed onto the base of the Statue of Liberty.

“Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

— Excerpt from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, 1883.

What’s it like to live in the former home of a famous person?

… “At a moment when the federal government is using the separation of children and parents as a strategy, there is a call to remember that we are, in her words, a nation of exiles, and that our welcoming those who had to flee oppression elsewhere is what made America great in the first place. One of my favorite things Emma Lazarus wrote is an essay in which she declared, ‘Until we are all free, we are none of us free.’ I enjoy very considerable freedom but am heartbroken for those who do not. Her words are resonant indeed for our times. When we curtail the freedoms of others, we damage ourselves.”

(To read the complete interview, please visit The Villager.)