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Leesburg Council Contemplates Donation To Slave Monument

© Leesburg Today - 10/27/2015

The Leesburg Town Council on Monday night discussed making a donation in support of the proposed historical marker and monument that will recognize the slaves sold at the Loudoun County Courthouse and the role the building played in the Underground Railroad.

The Loudoun Board of Supervisors has pledged to donate $50,000 to the cause, and the council was in favor of contributing to the project.

Members couldn't decide on a specific amount, however, and want to have Loudoun NAACP President Phillip Thompson explain the details of the project at a future meeting before allocating money.

""It's worth remembering the importance of the events,"" Vice Mayor Kelly Burk said. ""It was a place where slaves were sold and it was part of the Underground Railroad. There's a lot of historical significance there.""

Leesburg Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Kate Trask said Thompson hopes to get a historical marker in time for next year's Juneteenth commemoration, which marks the emancipation of slaves held in Confederate states on June 19, 1865.

Councilman Marty Martinez, who raised the issue, and Burk suggested a contribution of $10,000.

""I don't think we can afford to not help and support it,"" Martinez said. ""We can use it as a reminder of where we've come.""

Councilwoman Katie Sheldon Hammler said she sees value in the memorial project, and encourages private donors to come forward. As for the town's contribution, she suggested a public input session to ""see what taxpayers think.""

Councilwoman Suzanne Fox also supported private funding, and said that she's not sure ""both a marker and monument is necessary.""

The final decision on how much, if any, money will be donated will occur after Thompson speaks to the council. A historical marker could cost $2,000, and the monument will be much more expensive.

""Before I allocate taxpayer dollars to anything, we should know all the details,"" Councilman Tom Dunn said.

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