From the Earth Culture Roots site:
Dr. Jack Felder, a biochemist, educator, author and historian, asked this startling question in a New York newspaper, the Daily Challenge (July 16, 1990):
Did you know that the original Statue of Liberty was to have been a Black woman being liberated from slavery with broken chains in her hands and at her feet and that she also had a dark Negroid face?
The idea of building a statue to the liberation of African slaves in the U.S. was first broached in 1865 near Versailles, France, by Ddouard Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye. Laboulaye was an internationally renowned jurist and author of a three-volume history of the United States.
One of Laboulaye’s dinner guests was Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, a young sculptor with the freedom of man. Bartholdi took on this job of building the Statue of Liberty…
According to this insightful author:
Laboulaye’s concern as expressed in the May 1984 issue of the airline magazine Pam Am Clipper was for “a monument to send as a gift to abolitionists in recognition of the end of slavery in the U.S.”
Moreover, it is known fact that Bartholdi used Egypt as his principal inspiration for the Statue of Liberty.
In his thought-provoking monograph on this subject entitled, From the Statue of Liberty (Liberation) to the Statue of Bigotry, Dr. Felder cites Bartholdi’s words:
“Colossal statuary does not consist simply in making an enormous statue. It ought to produce an emotion in the breast of the spectator, not because of the volume, but because its size is in keeping with the idea it interprets…”
In the newspaper article, Felder writes that:
Eventually, Bartholdi built a model faithful to the wishes of de Laboulaye with broken chains at her feet and a broken chain in her left hand and a distinctly Negroid face. The broken chains were to indicate the broken chains of slavery.
In addition, Dr. Felder lists several sources to substantiate his claims. For example, he maintains that:
1. Proof and documents supporting the fact that the first and original Statue of Liberty was a Black woman breaking the chains at her feet and in her hand. Go to the Museum of the City of New York. Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street …
2. Check with Suzanne Nakasian, director of the Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation’s National Ethnic Campaign. Nakasian has said that the African-Americans’ direct connection to Lady Liberty is unknown to the majority of Americans, Black or White and this fact is not an accident.
3. You can check at the archive in Washington D.C. and ask for a photo-copy of the letter that … the French historian, Edouard Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye sent to President Abraham Lincoln …
4. You can check with the French Mission at the U.N. and ask for some original French material on the Statue of Liberty, including Bartholdi’s original model.
Source: Earth Culture Roots. (n.d.). The Original Statue of Liberty Was A Black Woman. Retrieved from http://www.earthcultureroots.com/freereport_01.html