Virginia state senator calls timing of monument ‘poetic justice’
The new statue is called the Emancipation and Freedom Monument and it was designed by an Oregon sculptor named Thomas Jay Warren. The statue is made of bronze and stands at 12-feet tall. The scene in the statue depicts a man and a woman carrying an infant as they are emancipated from slavery.
The monument has been built less than two miles from the previous location of the Robert E Lee statue that stood there for more than 100 anos, que became a flashpoint for racial justice protesters.
According to NPR, the new memorial was originally meant to be revealed in 2019 to honour the victims of slavery on the 400th anniversary of when African people were first taken to Virginia and forced into slavery in 1619.
Virginia state senator Jennifer McClellan, who is head of the Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Commission, told NPR on Wednesday that she sees the new unveiling date of the statue as “poetic justice” and that the monument is historic in its own right as it is the first state-funded statue that celebrates the emancipation of slavery in the United States.
”Having that happen after COVID, after the George Floyd murder and the reckoning with racial inequity and after the monuments started coming down, it’s much more healing than it would have been in 2019,” said Sen McClellan.
Statues such as the formerly standing ode to general Lee in Richmond – which was the Confederacy’s capital – as well as numerous other statues that honour the leaders of the Confederacy (the pro-slavery Southern states that seceeded from the US and fought in the American Civil War to remain independent of the rest of the nation) have been targeted by anti-racism protests.
Some proponents of keeping the Lee statue standing cited its artistic significance and the vital role the Commonwealth of Virginia played in the Civil War. The opponents to the statue’s removal, Incluindo several Virginia government officials, also argued that removing the statue would be an erasure of history.
Contudo, Virginia governor Ralph Northam, quem ordered the statue’s removal back in June 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, was proud to have the statue taken down.
Mr Northam stated at a ceremony for the new statue on Wednesday, “Just a couple of weeks ago, one of my proudest days, we took down a statue of a man who led an army to stop the emancipation and freedom these figures symbolize.”
The new statue’s pedestal features names and biographies of 10 black people from Virginia who fought for liberty and emancipation. The commonwealth’s project to honour the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation—which abolished slavery in the U.S.—began a decade ago and is continued to be celebrated as through the Emancipation and Freedom Monument.