Best Monument: The Black Soldiers Statue at War Memorial Plaza

Mad respect to the organized citizens responsible for relocating James E. Lewis’ black soldier’s memorial to the War Memorial Plaza in front of City Hall in 2007; this 1971 bronze sculpture of a proud, uniformed black soldier holding a wreathed scroll couldn’t be in a more appropriate location. This square is a frequent rallying point for protesters, from the 2013 marches protesting the Trayvon Martin case to this year’s Freddie Gray protests. Lewis—an irreplaceable local artist, Morgan State University art professor, and African and African-American art collector who died in 1997—understood black lives matter long before hashtag activism. On the scroll his soldier holds is a list of the years of U.S. military engagements in which black soldiers died, from 1775 to 1970, a reminder that African-Americans gave their lives for this democratic experiment since before it was even a country.

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