RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As the debate over Confederate monuments continues, an effort in Richmond is now underway to erect a new statue on Monument Avenue.
The Honor the 14 Foundation is planning to raise millions of dollars in private donations to commemorate the 14 African American Civil War heroes who were each awarded the Medal of Honor.
“I get choked up when I think about what it meant for them to fight in these battles, with such valor and strength,” said Richmond City Council member Kim Gray.
Gray recently proposed a measure to give the Honor the 14 Foundation $5,000 in city dollars as start-up money. The move comes after Mayor Levar Stoney and the Monument Avenue Commission also recommended erecting a monument commemorating black soldiers.
The 14 Union soldiers were mostly escaped-slaves who chose to put their lives on the line - again - to fight for freedom. They were part of a U.S. Colored Troops regiment, which overtook Confederate troops during the Battle of New Market Heights in Henrico, after several failed attempts by other Union forces.
The battle victory was widely celebrated in 1864. But in many respects, the heroic effort of these black veterans was long forgotten by history.
"I felt a little convicted that I grew up here and these were stories that we were never taught in school,” said Gray.
The Honor the 14 Foundation is aiming to make the "Forgotten 14″ memorial the second African American landmark on Monument Avenue, joining Arthur Ashe. The intersection at Monument Avenue and Meadow Street is one of the possible locations being considered for the project.
Donald King is part of the Honor the 14 Foundation, which aims to raise donations and facilitate planning for the monument. King, who is also on the Board of the American Civil War Museum, says the statue is planned to be as expansive as the rest on the stretch.
“I actually think it’ll be pretty easy to raise this money once we have a consensus on where it will be and what it’s going to look like and who’s going to do it,” said King.
The American Civil War Museum at Tredegar has one of the original Medals of Honor given to the soldiers on display, along with a host of other historic artifacts on the fourteen war heroes.
“It’s an incredible story and I think it’s one that needs to be told, not just for our city, but worldwide,” said Gray.
The first City Council committee vote on whether to approve the $5,000 seed money is set for Tuesday.
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