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Emancipation and Freedom Monument to be unveiled on Brown’s Island

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A new monument commissioned by the Virginia Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission will be dedicated and unveiled in a ceremony on Brown’s Island in Richmond on Wednesday.

Dedicated to the contributions of African American Virginians in the fight for freedom, the Emancipation and Freedom Monument, designed by Thomas Jay Warren of Oregon, features two 12-foot bronze statues representing a man, woman, and infant newly freed from slavery. On its pedestal, the monument features the names, images, and biographical information of 10 individuals whose lives and contributions represent the struggle for freedom both before and after Emancipation: Mary Elizabeth Bowser, William Harvey Carney, Gabriel, Dred Scott, Nat Turner, Rosa Dixon Bowser, John Mercer Langston, John Mitchell, Jr., Lucy Simms, and Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker.

The dedication and unveiling ceremony will include remarks from Gov. Ralph Northam, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, and the Commission’s chair, Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan, and vice-chair, Del. Delores L. McQuinn.

Dr. Lauranett L. Lee will deliver the keynote address, and the Elegba Folklore Society will perform a libation ceremony.

The ceremony will be open free to the public, rain or shine. The event will also be recorded by Virginia Public Media and livestreamed on the Commission’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/VAMLKCommission.

The project to create the Emancipation and Freedom Monument began in 2012 as part of a multi-year commemoration, led by the Commission, of the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation and the abolition of slavery in the United States. The ten individuals featured on the monument’s base were selected by the Commission out of more than 100 nominations from the public, which were narrowed down after receiving public comment at a series of statewide hearings.

The monument was funded through a combination of private donations and state appropriations.

The Emancipation and Freedom Monument is located at the end of the Fifth Street pedestrian bridge on Brown’s Island.