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Spirit of Freedom Sculpture - Design History

At the center of a granite-paved plaza encircled on three sides by the Wall of Honor is the Spirit of Freedom sculpture. Unveiled on July 18, 1998, the sculpture stands ten feet tall and features uniformed black soldiers and a sailor poised to leave home. Women, children and elders on the cusp of the concave inner surface seek strength together. Designed by Ed Hamilton of Louisville, Kentucky, this is the first major art piece by a black sculptor to be placed on federal land anywhere in the District of Columbia.



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I heard a report this morning on NPR about a Black man that accompanied the Lewis/Clark expedition. I missed the man's name, but Clark wrote about him in his diary of the expedition, otherwise the Black man had been ignored by history.

This man was a slave that grew up with and was Clark's playmate. At the age of 12, as society dictated, their relationship changed from playmates to master servant. When Clark went on the expedition, he took his slave with him.

This Black man is believed to have been the first Black in the western US. During the expedition, the slave pretty much gained his freedom in that he had votes in which way the group went and where they camped. During the expedition, he was especially useful in regards to dealing with the native populations that they encountered, since most natives had never seen a Black man.

However, upon their return, while the other members of the expedition received double pay and land grants, he was returned to slavery. {So much for equality and/or gratitude}

This explorer is now being recognized with a statute in a river basin facing west.

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