RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A project almost 10 years in the making came to fruition on Wednesday at Brown’s Island. Now visitors will see two bronze statues dedicated to African American’s fight for freedom whenever they visit the spot by the James River.
Just weeks ago, the statue of Robert E. Lee was taken down from Monument Avenue, a statue which many Virginians felt preserved the messaging of the Confederacy, including support for slavery.
The new monument just across town is entitled the Emancipation and Freedom Monument. The project is the work of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission and sculptor Thomas J. Warren.
The statues depict a woman holding a baby and man with broken shackles. At the base of the statue, ten people who contributed to advancing the freedom of African Americans are honored.
One of those people shown at the base is John Mitchell Jr., a Richmond pioneer journalist and activist. His great-great-nephew, John Mitchell, was at the unveiling ceremony on Wednesday.
“Richmond is getting it right,” Mitchell said.
He said some of his relatives cried as the statue was revealed to the public for the first time.
Local and state leaders including Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Governor Ralph Northam attended the event as well. Northam said in attempts to tell and teach the full and true history of Virginia people sometimes have to focus on the horrors of slavery.
“But, in this monument, we see a different part of the story,” Northam said. “These figures embody the power… the power of emancipation and the power of freedom.”
For the family members of those pictured on the statue, the new monument also shares a message of inclusion and diversity.