Last week we shared how a controversial Robert E. Lee statue was finally removed from Virginia’s capital. In an acknowledgment of the history of slavery and the fight for equality in the US, Richmond has unveiled a new monument—a statue of a man and a woman holding an infant after they were freed from slavery—just two miles from where the statue of the Confederate general used to stand.
Named the Emancipation and Freedom Monument, the statues stand 12 feet tall and, according to the Virginia Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission, which commissioned the piece, honor the abolition of slavery as well as the contributions of Black Virginians in the “centuries-long fight for emancipation and freedom.”
The statues were created by Oregon sculptor Thomas Jay Warren, and the base of the monument features the names of 10 Black Virginians—five who fought to end slavery before emancipation and five who fought for equality between 1865 and 1970. The names include those of Mary Elizabeth Bowser, who served as a Union spy in the Confederate White House, and John Mercer Langston, Virginia’s first Black member of Congress.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam praised the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue saying, “You know, we talk often about the need to make sure that we tell and teach the full and true story of our shared history, how we must ensure that everyone understands where we have been so we can build a more inclusive future together.”
Image source: PBS