The 5th Anniversary of Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial is This Month

By James Cullum

ALEXANDRIA,VA- Many of Alexandria’s best and bravest from history will never be forgotten. To remember the fallen, the public is invited to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial at 1001 Washington St.

The remembrance kicks off with a speech by historian Char McCargo Bah at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13, followed by a reception and book signing at 7 p.m. A number of free events will be held over the following weekend, starting with a wreath laying ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 10:30 a.m. and a candlelight vigil at 8:30 p.m.

The site of the memorial, Freedmen’s Cemetery, was established by Union military authorities in 1864 in response to an overwhelming health and humanitarian crisis in Alexandria. More than 1,700 freed and formerly enslaved African Americans were buried in the cemetery during and just after the war. The cemetery fell into disrepair and nearly faded from memory before being restored and rededicated in 2007. The Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial opened in 2014 on the site of the cemetery, to honor the memory of the Freedmen; the hardships they faced and their contributions to Alexandria.

There will also be a ticketed luncheon on Saturday costing $65, with Terry Brown, the National Park Service superintendent of Fort Monroe National Monument. There will also be curated bus tours to Alexandria’s African American historical sites costing $35, and the tour includes the Freedom House Museum, Fort Ward Museum, and the Virginia Theological Seminary.