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Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial Dedication

The City of Alexandria will officially dedicate the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial on Saturday, September 6, at 10 a.m. The memorial park honors the memory of the Alexandria’s Freedmen, the hardships they faced, and their contributions to the City. The September 6 dedication caps three days of events featuring Alexandria’s Civil War and African American history.

Journey to Be Free

September 6, 2014

During the Civil War, the Alexandria Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery was the burial place for approximately 1,800 African Americans who fled to Alexandria to escape bondage. The cemetery fell into disrepair and nearly faded from memory before being restored and rededicated in 2007. Now, in the sesquicentennial of both the Cemetery and the Civil War, a new memorial honors this site and those who were laid to rest there. Their descendants, many of whom will be coming to Alexandria for the Dedication, now live in nearly all 50 states.

The Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial project was completed under the stewardship of the City of Alexandria and the Friends of Freedmen's Cemetery. Funding was provided by the City, the Federal Highway Administration and Virginia Department of Transportation through the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project, and a grant from Save America's Treasures, a public-private partnership between the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Memorial features artist Mario Chiodo's sculpture "The Path of Thorns and Roses," an allegorical depiction of the struggle for freedom; the Memorial's bas-reliefs depicting the flight to freedom were done by local sculptor Joanna Blake. AECOM (formerly EDAW) and Howard + Revis Design comprised the design team for the Memorial.


Press Coverage of the Celebration

  • CBS Evening News *National* [Video]  Once below gas station, Virginia cemetery restored.
  • NBC4 [Video]  City of Alexandria Dedicating Cemetery Memorial.
  • Washington Post.  A memorial honors slaves who escaped the South for refuge in Alexandria, Va.
  • WTOP  Freedmen honored at local park memorial.
  • CBS Local  City of Alexandria Dedicating Cemetery Memorial.
  • WJLA 7  Alexandria dedicates memorial at Freedmen's Cemetery to African Americans who died in the Civil War.
  • WUSA 9  Alexandria to dedicate memorial to African Americans who died in Civil War.
  • Washington Informer [Cover Story]  Alexandria Cemetery Dedication Draws Descendants.
  • Greenfield Daily Reporter [AP].  City of Alexandria dedicating cemetery memorial to African Americans who died during Civil War.
  • Alexandria Gazette Packet [Cover story]  Memorial Cemetery Dedicated.
  • Alexandria Times  Out of the Attic: Dedication of memorial marks end of long journey for cemetery.
  • Red Brick Town  Alexandria Celebrates the Dedication of the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial.
  • AlexandriaNews.org.  Alexandria Remembers Contraband And Freedmen With Memorial Dedication  Freedmen Cemetery.
  • Patch Media  Alexandria Dedicates the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial.



Video Interviews


story names map display board 

More Photos >> 


Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial Commemorative Ornament

Commemorative Ornament

The Alexandria Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial ornament depicts Mario Chiodo's passionate statue, The Path of Thorns and Roses, framed by the memorial's arched entranceway. As the centerpiece of the memorial, the statue depicts the allegoric figures of Oppression, Struggle, Sacrifice, Loss, Compassion, and Hope. The ornament commemorates the 150th anniversary of the cemetery's first burial and the memorial's official opening in September, 2014.

Visit the Alexandria Shop to purchase this ornament.

Price: $18 

 

 


2014 Commemorative Weekend Events

Date   Time   Event   Place  
Wednesday
September 3
6:00 p.m. Preview of Alexandria Freedmen's Cemetery Exhibition (light refreshments)  Alexandria Black History Museum
902 Wythe Street
7:30 p.m.

Preserving Alexandria's African American Heritage: The Development of Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial
- lecture/presentation by

Audrey Davis, ABHM Director
Francine Bromberg, Acting City Archaeologist

 Alexandria Black History Museum
902 Wythe Street
Thursday,
September 4
10:30 a.m. Alexandria Civil War Neighborhoods- North*
Two-hour Walking Tour with Pamela Cressey, Ph.D.
Tour starts at Lloyd House, 220 N. Washington Street, on rear terrace at Queen Street Gate
10:30 a.m. Alexandria Civil War Neighborhoods- North*
lecture/presentation
by Lance Mallamo, OHA Director
Alexandria Black History Museum
902 Wythe Street
2 p.m. Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial Bas Reliefs
- lecture/presentation by Joanna Blake, artist
Alexandria Black History Museum
902 Wythe Street
3 p.m. to 4 p.m. "The Path of Thorns and Roses" sculpture at the Contrabands and Freedmen's Cemetery
- lecture/presentation by Mario Chiodo, artist
Alexandria Black History Museum
902 Wythe Street
  6 to 9 p.m. Journey To Be Free: Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial Descendant Banquet***  Charles Houston Recreation Center
901 Wythe Street
Friday,
September 5
10:30 a.m. Alexandria Civil War Neighborhoods-South,
Alexandria National Cemetery
*
2-hour Walking Tour with Pamela Cressey, Ph.D.
Tour starts in front of Dutch Treat Deli, 1800 Diagonal Road, in front of King Street Metro Station
10:30 a.m. Alexandria Civil War Neighborhoods-South,
Alexandria National Cemetery*
- lecture/presentation by Lance Mallamo, OHA Director
Alexandria Black History Museum
902 Wythe Street
2 p.m. Archaeology at Freedmen's Cemetery
- lecture/presentation by Steven Shephard, Ph.D
Alexandria Black History Museum
902 Wythe Street
7 to 8:00 p.m. Musical Performance
Journey to be Free: Descendants Returning to Alexandria
narrated by C.R. Gibbs, Historian
The Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel Choir - Ned L. Lewis, Conductor
Click here to register for the musical performance
Lee Center
1108 Jefferson Street
Public parking will be available at St. Mary's School parking lot at the end of South Royal Street, just south of Green Street, starting at 6 p.m. Shuttles will transport guests first to the Lee Center, then to the Candlelight Vigil at Freedmen's Cemetery after the musical performance, and then return guests to St. Mary's School parking lot after the short ceremony at Freedmen's Cemetery.
8:30 p.m. Candlelight Vigil & Short Ceremony From Lee Center to Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial Church and South Washington Streets
Saturday,
September 6
10 a.m.

Memorial Dedication **

Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial
Church and South Washington Streets
Public parking will be available the at Jones Point Park parking lot at the end of South Royal Street, south of Green Street, starting at 9 a.m. Shuttles will transport guests to the dedication site and return guests to Jones Point Park lot starting at 12 noon.
Sunday,
September 7
1 p.m. Farewell to Descendants  


The Journey to Be Free: Our Homecoming Celebration

Information about the Banquet
Thursday, September 4, 2014

  • Attire: Semi-formal (please, no jeans)
  • Tickets: $75 per person ages 13 and older. Payment may be made by credit card, cash or check. Please call 703.746.4717 for reservations and payment.
  • Banquet Location: The banquet was held at the Charles Houston Recreation Center, 902 Wythe St., on former site of the Parker-Gray School. For this special evening, the Johnson-Siebert Gymnasium will be transformed into The Bulldog Ballroom (representing the Parker-Gray mascot on the wall). A recently installed "Hall of Fame" permanent exhibit, documenting significant African Americans in Alexandria's history, will also be on view throughout the building.
  • Children: Childcare for children 12 years and under of descendants attending the Banquet is $16 per child. The cost includes a meal. Check-in begins at 5:30p.m .at Charles Houston Recreation Center. Reservations and payments are required in advance. The payment plan follows the adult schedule; $8 per child by July 15, and balance by August 15. There is no discount for multiple children.
  • Menu: A special "home-cooked style" menu of traditional favorites will be provided by local caterer - Do Yourself A Flava. Anyone with dietary restrictions, or a preference for vegetarian options should indicate it at the time the reservation is made, please call 703.746.4717 for further information and reservations.
  • Seating Option: At the time that your reservation is made, please indicate any seating preferences. We will make every effort to accommodate seating choices.
  • Parking: There will be reserved parking designated for this event on the streets that border the Center. General street parking in the surrounding community will be available. Off site parking with shuttle service is also being planned. More details are forthcoming.
  • Photo Opportunities: A designated area will be available for families to take group photos to commemorate this occasion. Plans are being made to offer professional photos. More details are forthcoming. 

Office of Historic Alexandria 

Administration Offices

Lloyd House
220 North Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
703.746.4554
Fax: 703.838.6451
Email

Office Hours
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.