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Richmond City Council panel endorses funding for new Monument Avenue statue

Posted at 8:39 AM, Jan 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-22 08:39:50-05

RICHMOND, Va. — A Richmond City Council panel has advanced a resolution that requests funding for a statue on the city’s famed Monument Avenue that would honor African American troops who fought for the Union during the Civil War.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the resolution also asks the city administration to develop a plan for erecting the statue that would memorialize 14 Medal of Honor recipients from a U.S. Colored Troops regiment of the Union Army.

A private foundation is conducting a fundraising effort for the statue, and the city’s resolution would chip in $5,000. The full council might take action on the measure next week.

Support grows for Monument Avenue memorial honoring African-American heroes

Six regiments of black Union troops laid siege to the Confederate defenses of Richmond -- and won the victory. It was one of the first attacks of the Civil War, exclusively led by African-American commanders.

“Most people don't know about this battle,” said Don King, who is leading the effort.

Of the 20 African-American soldiers awarded medals of honor during the Civil War -- 14 of them earned them in fields off Route 5 in eastern Henrico.

King, who is the founder of the Honor the 14 Foundation, wants to build a monument honoring the 14 war heroes on Monument Avenue.

“These guys got medals of honor in 1865. Right away. It was such an important battle,” said King.

King says this pivotal battle slipped from attention in the lost cause and Jim Crow narratives that followed.

“Right now, it's only showing the Confederate side, but if we can add the Union side, in particular, these black troops, many of whom were Virginians by the way and most of them were escaped slaves. If you put that there, it just strengthens the story being told on Monument Avenue,” King explained.

Richmond City Councilwoman Kim Gray is working with the foundation and said the Monument Avenue Commission recommended honoring the New Market 14.

"It's an amazing story,” said Gray. "It's very significant to put it in contrast with the Confederate soldiers so that we can have a more complete story of the Civil War and what it meant to a more diverse audience.”

Neither Gray nor King want the memorial to replace Confederate statues but serve as a counterweight instead.

The plan is to put the new memorial at where Monument Avenue intersections either Meadow or Allison Street.

The AP Wire contributed to this report.