Born into privilege in New York City, Emma Lazarus was a tireless advocate for refugees. She called for action during a time when the voices of women were so rarely heard.
Emma also made her voice heard through her poetry, which won her praise from an early age. Her 1883 sonnet, “The New Colossus,” is her most well-known work since some of its verses adorn the base of the Statue of Liberty.
For over 100 years, these words have greeted thousands of refugees fleeing hardship and dreaming of a better life in America. Although Lady Liberty is no longer the first site for those coming to the United States, the words still ring true.
We honor Emma’s advocacy and her emphasis on vocational training. She created a movement whose legacy we are proud to uphold.
The New Colossus (1883)
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
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!”