Two weeks after a statue of a Confederate general was removed from Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, a new monument is being put in its place.
Elected leaders were on hand for the dedication of the Emancipation and Freedom Monument Wednesday, which features statues of two people: a woman with an infant in one hand holding a document up with the other and a man standing with extended arms and chains dropping to the ground.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northman said they are symbols of a Virginia that’s taken a hard look at what they need to do better, and how they need to get there.
— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) September 23, 2021
“These figures embody the power of emancipation and the power of freedom,” Northam said. “We are all at an important point in America and in Virginia as we reckon with how Virginia’s racial history shapes our present day and how we tell that story so that everyone understands it.”
Northam said the new statues represent the commonwealth’s dedication to racial justice.
Today, I attended the powerful unveiling of the Emancipation and Freedom Statue in Richmond. The monument is an important step in telling a more inclusive story of Virginia's history. Thank you to @JennMcClellanVA and the VA MLK Commission for your hard work on this project. pic.twitter.com/cfxOLS13h5
— Governor Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) September 22, 2021
“Our public memorials are symbols of who we are and what we value,” Northam said. “They’re symbols of a Virginia that is reckoning with ugliness and inequality. A Virginia that’s taken a deep hard look into what we need to do better and how to get there. We are all at an important point in America and in Virginia as we reckon with how Virginia’s racial history shapes our present day and how we tell that story so that everyone understands it.”
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney also attended the dedication of the statues, saying “Richmond and Virginia have come a long way … the monument that we unveil today will withstand the test of time.”
Virginia State Sen. Jennifer McClellan also commemorated the unveiling, saying “Emancipation was not a moment, it was a movement.”
“From the beginning, there were acts of resistance, rebellion, and self-liberation, as a people stolen from their homeland, put in chains, raped, beaten and murdered pushed on for freedom and equality,” she said. “The resilience of the African American spirit and we will continue to push on until the words of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and equality apply to all.”
The ceremony was held two weeks after a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was taken down from Monument Avenue.