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September 17, 2014 Published in From Congress, Other News

Congress Approves Prime Location For National Liberty Memorial Honoring African American Revolutionary War Soldiers, Patriots And Liberty Seekers

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On September 11, 2014, Congress cleared the way for the National Liberty Memorial to stand on prized land (Area I) near the Washington Monument.  Both bodies without one dissenting vote reaffirmed the history to be of "preeminent historical and lasting significance to the nation."  The National Mall Liberty Fund DC was originally authorized on January 2, 2013 (Pub. L. 112–239), to sponsor the construction of a commemorative work to slaves and free black persons for contributions as soldiers, sailors, and civilians to the American Revolution.  The law allots the sponsor seven years (until January 2, 2019) to raise the funds to design and build the memorial.  No federal funds are authorized to be used.

The National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission (NCMAC) on December 12, 2013, endorsed the sponsor's preferred site (Site Selection Report) on 14th Street between Independence Avenue and Jefferson Drive, a busy gateway entrance into downtown Washington that carries tourists toward the White House and other defining landmarks. The site is less than 400 steps from the National Museum of American History and the future Museum of African American History and Culture.

African Americans served in all of the major battles of the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), from Lexington and Concord to Yorktown. Revised estimates suggest that 10,000 or more could have served as soldiers, sailors and marines.  Many others served in civilian capacities and performed patriotic acts.   Inspired by the Declaration of Independence, tens of thousands ran away to freedom.

For generations, historians had estimated that at least 5,000 served; however, less than half were known until the publication ofForgotten Patriots, African American and American Indian Patriots of the Revolutionary War (National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, 2008) that ended speculation, providing identities, deeds and the names of hometowns.

Other states, outside the original 13, also were home to black patriots, including Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Maine, Vermont and Michigan. Liberty Fund DC has shared the names of local patriots with 426 cities, towns and counties in five states. These comprise dozens of congressional districts represented by both parties and every background.

A total of 60 counties and towns in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Louisiana, Ohio, and Virginia approved resolutions honoring local patriots and urging  Congress to approve a site in the Monumental Core of Washington.  The governors of Connecticut, Rhode Island, North Carolina and Virginia issued proclamations honoring 2,450 patriots with known residences. The Connecticut General Assembly also did so.

Over two dozen articles were written about the local project alone, including a front page story in the Providence Journal.  At least 800 served with distinction from Rhode Island, including an all-black regiment and men who had come earlier on slave ships from Africa and volunteered.

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