Your Views: Remembering Alexandria’s Contrabands

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Your Views: Remembering Alexandria’s Contrabands
“The Path of Thorns and Roses” by sculptor Mario Chiodo at the Contrabands and Freedmen Memorial Cemetery. (Photo Credit: Cody Mello-Klein)
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To the editor:

I am writing in response to the Feb. 28 Alexandria Times story “Contrabands in Alexandria” that details the talk given by Black History Museum Director Audrey Davis about contrabands and the statue “The Path of Thorns and Roses” that commemorates Alexandria’s contraband cemetery. That statue may seem like an ordinary, everyday sight to most. However, it bears a significant amount of weight to those who understand the history of it.

If one were to take a step back and analyze the sight from a more macro level, they would come to realize the importance behind the sculpture. The story of the contrabands in the Civil War is one that goes untold far too often. If one were to deconstruct the surface level reality, they would learn of how the contrabands were a group of slaves that escaped to the North in search of refuge at Ft. Monroe, Virginia.

These unsung heroes fought for freedom with their lives and paved the way for many others to follow behind. It is truly remarkable that it took more than 100 years for city leaders to recognize the site as a historic black cemetery. Stories of efforts toward freedom such as these ought to be widely projected more often to help everyday individuals come to de- construct their pre-existing, surface-level knowledge and reveal the facts.

-Mikayla Dukes, James Madison University

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