The Friends of Freedmen's Cemetery

Artists Selected to Submit Design Proposals for the Contrabands and Freedmen's Cemetery Sculpture

The Alexandria Commission for the Arts and the Office of the Arts are pleased to announce the artists selected to submit design proposals for the Contrabands and Freedmen's Cemetery sculpture. The public is invited to meet the artists and view the proposals at a reception on Saturday, July 7, 2012 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Durant Arts Center, located at 1605 Cameron St. (new location). This move was required due to physical constraints of the maquettes and the proposed viewing locations.

The finalists are:

Erik Blome, Crystal Lake, Illinois
Mario Chiodo, Oakland, California
Edward Dwight, Denver, Colorado

Beginning July 9, the proposals will be on display at the Durant Arts Center, located at 1605 Cameron St. (new location). The public may record written comments at the display, or e-mail comments to through August 6.

The three finalists emerged from a talented pool of applicants from 19 states and three countries who responded to a widely promoted "Call to Artists." The artists were selected by a panel of stakeholders including representatives of the Friends of Freedmen's Cemetery, descendant family members, Old Town/Hunting Creek Civic Association, the Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage, Alexandria Historical Society, the Public Art Committee, and subject matter experts including an historian, design professional and sculptor.

Following the month-long display of the proposals, the Selection Panel will consider the public comments and make a recommendation to the Alexandria Commission for the Arts and City Council. The winning artist will be announced in September. The sculpture will be installed in the spring of 2013 at the Cemetery, located at 1001 S. Washington St.

The cost of the sculpture is funded in accordance with the terms of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge settlement agreement between the City, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The sculpture will be a part of a larger Memorial to those who did not live long in freedom, the freed and escaped slaves and their children buried in the Cemetery. The goal of the sculpture is to educate visitors to the Cemetery about the courageous struggles of the thousands of contrabands and freedmen who sought refuge in Alexandria during the Civil War. The sculpture will be located inside the Cemetery, and will serve as a reminder to generations of the struggle for freedom and the people who fought for it.

For more information, contact Alisa Carrel, Director of the Office of the Arts, at 703.746.5590 or e-mail

Freedmen's Cemetery Historical Site Marker - E 109 Freedmen's Cemetery - Federal authorities established a cemetery here for newly freed African Americans during the Civil War. In January 1864, the military governor of Alexandria confiscated for use as a burying ground an abandoned pasture from a family with Confederate sympathies. About 1,700 freed people, including infants and black Union soldiers, were interred here before the last recorded burial in January 1869. Most of the deceased had resided in what is known as Old Town and in nearby rurual settlements. Despite mid-twentieth-century construction projects, many burials remain undisturbed. A list of those interred here has also survived.

Friends of Freedmenís Cemetery
638 North Alfred Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Freedmen's Cemetery Logo - This logo was designed by Alexandria Archaeology Assistant City Archaeologist, Dr. Steven Shephard, in 2006. The beautifully executed final drawing was made by Alexandria Archaeology volunteer, Mr. Andrew Flora, who made a few modifications. At the center of the logo is a headboard of the design seen in historic photographs of the Alexandria National Cemetery, established at the north end of Wilkes Street in 1862. These grave markers were supplied by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Department in Alexandria and records state that this department also supplied the headboards and coffins for Freedmens Cemetery. The pine boards were whitewashed and the plot number, and presumably, the name of the deceased, and possibly the date of death, were painted in black on the headboard. The number 1864 in the logo represents the year that the cemetery was established. The black silhouette of the African American woman in the center of the board is meant to represent the people, the Freedmen, who were buried at the cemetery. Civilian men, women and many children were buried here, along with African American soldiers of the United States Colored Troops. The rays radiating from the top of the headboard are meant to represent the light of freedom, as well as the souls of the Freedmen ascending into heaven and their final reward. The F and C are for Freedmen's Cemetery. The surrounding broken chain wreath symbolizes the severed bonds of slavery which resulted from the American Civil War which transformed Alexandria and the nation.

July 5th, 2012