By Maria Paula
Two statues of a man and a woman holding an infant and freed from slavery were unveiled just two weeks after removal of the Robert Lee monument in the former Confederate capital. The Emancipation and Freedom Monument, designed by an Oregon artist, Thomas Jay Warren, was revealed at Browns island, a public park in Richmond, Virginia on Wednesday Sept. 22.commemorating the abolition of slavery.
The memorial’s pedestal has inscriptions of 10 Virginians who fought for freedom of enslaved Blacks during emancipation. They include Dred Scott, whose lawsuit upheld that African American’s were not U.S. citizens; John Mitchell Jr., the first Black to vie for Virginia governor, newspaper editor and activist, Nat Turner, an 1831 successful slave rebellion leader; and Lucy Simms,
an educator in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
“Our public memorials and statues are symbols of who and what we value. They are symbols of a Virginia that is reckoning with ugliness and inequality. A Virginia that tells the truth of our past so we can build a better future together, ” said Ralph Northam, Virginia Governor who attended the statues unveiling.
“These statues are symbols of hope and freedom and the enduring will to fight for that freedom.”
The 2011 project launched by Sen, Jennifer McClellan, head of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission, sought to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, The declaration announced freedom to all
slaves in Confederate territory in 1863.
As part of the 400th anniversary of 1619, when the first enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia., the monument which was supposed to be launched in 2019 was postponed due to the COVID 19 scourge.
“This monument represents an important part of healing,” McClellan said. “Having that happen after COVID, the George Floyd murder, the reckoning with racial inequity and after the monuments coming down, it’s much more healing than it would have
been in 2019.” said McClellan.