Emancipation and Freedom Monument

On September 22, the Virginia Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission unveiled the latest addition to Virginia’s commemorative landscape: the Emancipation and Freedom Monument on Brown’s Island in Richmond.

The monument, which features two bronze statues representing a man and a woman and an infant newly freed from slavery, is dedicated to the contributions of African American Virginians in the centuries-long fight for emancipation and freedom.

The base of the monument features ten African American Virginians whose lives were dedicated to emancipation and freedom—five from the period before full emancipation in 1865 and five who continued to work for freedom from 1866 to 1970.

You can read more about the remarkable individuals featured on the Emancipation and Freedom Monument in Encyclopedia Virginia:

Mary Elizabeth Bowser, a spy for the Union in the Confederate White House.

Rosa Dixon Bowser, an educator, women’s rights activist, and social reformer who founded the first African American teachers association and co-founded the Virginia State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs and the National Association of Colored Women.

William Harvey Carney, a former slave who fought in the 54th Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry Regiment and for his actions at Fort Wagner was the first African American awarded the Medal of Honor.

Gabriel, who led one of the half-dozen most important insurrection plots in the history of North American slavery.

John Mercer Langston, Virginia’s first African American member of Congress and the first president of what is now Virginia State University.

John Mitchell, Jr., a community activist, the first African American to run for Governor of Virginia, and editor of the Richmond Planet newspaper, which covered local, national, and worldwide news, especially lynchings, segregation, and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.

Lucy Simms, a prominent educator who taught three generations of African American children in the Harrisonburg area.

Dred Scott, an enslaved man whose unsuccessful lawsuit for his freedom led to the infamous Supreme Court decision that persons of African descent were not United States citizens.

Nat Turner, leader of the only successful slave revolt in Virginia’s history, shattering the myth of the contented slave.

Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker, a Petersburg minister, civil rights activist, chief of staff to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.


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