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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

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Richmond, Virginia, erects emancipation monuments

On September 22, Richmond, Virginia unveiled a monument commemorating the abolition of slavery two weeks after taking down the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

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On September 22, Richmond, Virginia unveiled a monument commemorating the abolition of slavery two weeks after taking down the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Thomas Jay Warren, the Oregon-based sculptor who designed the 12-foot sculpture called the Emancipation and Freedom Monument, designed the statue. A man is shown breaking out of shackles and a woman is shown holding her child as part of the piece depicting abolition of slavery. The monument’s pedestal also contains images and words from ten Black Virginians who contributed to the abolition struggle, such as lawyer Dred Scott, educator Lucy Simms, and civil rights activist Nat Turner, who led a successful slave revolt.

Sen. Jennifer McClellan told NPR that “it really captured what we were trying to accomplish” by capturing emancipation emotions but also the involvement of others in the process of fighting slavery, leading to emancipation and fighting for freedom and equality in the future.

After the pandemic, the monument was intended to be erected during the 400th anniversary celebration of the arrival of enslaved Africans in Virginia, but was pushed back because of the pandemic.

A large portion of healing has always been symbolized by this monument, according to McClellan, who began the effort. As long as that happens after COVID, after the George Floyd murder, after an acknowledgement of racial inequity is acknowledged and after the monuments have been removed, it will have much greater healing power than it did in 2019.

Aside from being the first state-sponsored monument to recognize freedom for enslaved people in the United States, McClellan says the monument represents the end of slavery in America.

In her words, “It is so appropriate that it should take place here because Virginia is not only known as the birthplace of Western democracy, but it was also the birthplace of slavery and all of its horrors,” she noted. “Richmond has played an important role in this.”

On Twitter, you can watch a livestream of the erection of the monument and the celebration that followed with Governor Ralph Northam in attendance.

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