City moves to donate land for state monument

Jeremy Lazarus | 2/4/2017, 9:53 a.m.
Richmond is moving to donate a small piece of Brown’s Island to the state as the site for the future ...
Renderings of Emancipation Proclamation and Freedom Monument

Richmond is moving to donate a small piece of Brown’s Island to the state as the site for the future Emancipation Proclamation and Freedom Monument.

According to legislation, the city is proposing to convey to the state a circular 40-foot portion of the island as the site for the 12-foot monument. The location, involving 1,256 square feet, is near the 5th Street foot bridge to the island, according to the legislation.

The Richmond Planning Commission is to consider the proposed conveyance Monday, Feb. 6. The final decision would be up to Richmond City Council, which could vote on it as early as Monday, Feb. 13.

The monument, envisioned in 2012, is a project of the General Assembly-created Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission.

The commission, led by Richmond Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan, has commissioned sculptor Thomas J. Warren of Rogue River, Ore., to develop the monument. According to the commission, the purpose of the monument is to educate the public about the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation that began to dismantle slavery in the United States.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the decree on Jan. 1, 1863, that freed slaves in Virginia and other states of the Confederacy and led to the passage of the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that fully abolished U.S. support of human bondage.

The monument also will pay tribute to notable African-Americans with ties to Virginia who have made significant contributions to the emancipation of and freedom of formerly enslaved persons or their descendants, the commission has said.

The commission is seeking nominations of African-Americans whom the public believes should be included. The nomination form is on the commission’s website, http://mlkcommission.dls.virginia.gov/

The commission’s plan is to complete the monument and install it by summer 2019, or in time for the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia.