RALEIGH- Governor Pat McCrory has announced that the North Carolina Historical Commission voted unanimously to proceed with planning a memorial on the grounds of the State Capitol to commemorate the contributions of African Americans to the life of the state.
“We must begin to tell the story of the great contributions African Americans have made to North Carolina,” Governor McCrory said. “This memorial will not only commemorate an important part of our history, it will inspire future generations to make history of their own that will contribute to the fabric of our great state.”
The vote came following a recommendation of Governor McCrory to Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz. The endorsement follows a 2010 study of monuments both inside and outside the Capitol and concurrent recommendations for developing additional memorials.
“I am thrilled that the contributions of African Americans will be recognized on the Capitol grounds,” said Kluttz. “I am proud that our governor took the lead in this long, overdue initiative.”
The Historical Commission joins the African American Heritage Commission in seeking to fully represent the diversity of North Carolina’s history. Those backing the proposal commend the work of the North Carolina Freedom Monument Project and seek to complement, not supplant, its ambitious plan for a public art project two blocks northeast of the Capitol.
The planning committee will consist of three members of the North Carolina Historical Commission and three members of the African American Heritage Commission, and led by Historical Commission Chair Millie Barbee.
The committee is charged with site selection and identification of one or more designers to be placed before the Historical Commission for final selection. Assisting the committee will be Michael Hill, supervisor of historical research, and Michelle Lanier, director of the African American Heritage Commission.
The first step will be identification of a suitable space on the State Capitol grounds with consideration of the northwest, southwest and southeast corners. The Vietnam Memorial occupies the northeast corner and offers the prime model for scale.
As to thematic elements, the 2010 study included the results of hearings and other public input. A host of potential subjects will be made known to prospective designers. The North Carolina Arts Council will assist in the development of a call for entries. The first meeting of the planning committee is set for January 2016.
The North Carolina Historical Commission, African American Heritage Commission and North Carolina Arts Council are administered by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.