Hidden History: The Emancipation Proclamation and Freedom Monument

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) -- The final touches are being made for a slave emancipation monument on Brown's Island. The Emancipation Proclamation and Freedom Monument is set to be completed by the end of 2019.

Oregon state artist Thomas Jay Warren is currently in his art studio, meticulously molding every precious final detail. Once completed, the 12-foot bronze monument will feature newly freed slaves.

One statue is of a woman gripping her newborn and standing with her arm extended.

A second statue is of a man standing with shackles broken. There are scars showing on his back, with his outstretched arms.

Virginia State Senator Jennifer McClellan serves as Chairwoman for the committee working on the project. Sen. McClellan told 8News, “Part of what we liked with this design is not that it just told a story of the Emancipation Proclamation. It also tells the story of the people who fought against slavery.

Richmond is home to a few monuments, which were dedicated to the fight for freedom. Public art advocate Gary Flowers was part of the team that brought the Maggie Walker monument to Broad Street in Richmond.

Flowers told 8News, “The value of public art is that little boys and girls regardless of race, religion or resources can look up (to the statues)!”  

Sen. McClellan is hoping Richmond’s newest monument will highlight the rich and complex layers of the Commonwealth’s history.   “They can see someone their size who played an important role in history," she explained. 

The base of the monument will feature the names and images of eight African American Virginians whose lives were dedicated to freedom. Five of the individuals from the period before Emancipation, five who continued to work for freedom after 1866.

The estimated cost of the monument is $800,000 and will be paid for through a combination of private and public funds.