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Loudoun supervisors to consider African-American, slave memorial Wednesday

Loudoun County courthouse grounds in downtown Leesburg. Photo/Loudoun.gov
Loudoun’s Board of Supervisors on Wednesday will consider pledging $50,000 in public funds to erect a new monument on the county courthouse grounds memorializing the role Loudoun African-Americans played during and leading up to the Civil War.

The proposal comes near the end of a racially-charged summer and a crescendoing debate about the appropriateness of a 107-year-old Confederate soldier monument in the center of downtown Leesburg.

A draft of Wednesday's proposal suggests supervisors support and work with the community to design and plan a memorial on the courthouse grounds that honors and remembers the enslaved that were sold on the courthouse steps and those from Loudoun who fought for the Union during the Civil War.

The Board of Supervisors item proposes a similar approach to the one the county took in aiding the development of a Revolutionary War statue. For that project, which is expected to be unveiled later this year, the county pledged $50,000, but the money is released only after the remaining funds needed have been raised.

“African-Americans from Loudoun County played important roles during the Civil War. They did not just stand by passively as spectators or cheerleaders of the Union,” a county staff report notes.

In July, the local NAACP held a rally on the courthouse grounds calling for a new monument to erected. A new statue or remembrance is meant to balance the historical record displayed on the county’s public grounds, supporters say.

At the NAACP rally, a small group of men and women stood around the Confederate monument waving Confederate battle flags.

The long-standing sculpture, designed by renowned artist F.S. Sievers, stands to honor “the many Rebel soldiers who died fighting for the cause in which they believed,” the staff report notes. State law protects Civil War monuments from removal or relocation.

“To achieve the balance needed and to tell more of the story, it has been suggested that a memorial(s) to those that died trying to stop slavery, including the formerly enslaved and escaped slaves that joined the Union forces …” the staff report continues.


Related coverage:

-"NAACP rally at Loudoun courthouse—‘Tell the whole story’"

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