Archive for Sunday, July 28, 2002

Savannah monument honors blacks

July 28, 2002

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— On the cobblestone riverfront where the first slaves arrived in Georgia, the city unveiled a bronze and granite monument to black Americans on Saturday after a decade of delays and debate.

The monument, depicting a black family embracing with broken chains at its feet, is the first to honor blacks in a city that has erected statues of its white founders and Civil War heroes for nearly two centuries.

The Rev. Thurmond Tillman leads the crowd in song in Savannah, Ga.,
during the unveiling of a monument to blacks. The monument the
first to blacks in the city where the first slaves to Georgia were
delivered has been a topic of debate for 10 years.

The Rev. Thurmond Tillman leads the crowd in song in Savannah, Ga., during the unveiling of a monument to blacks. The monument the first to blacks in the city where the first slaves to Georgia were delivered has been a topic of debate for 10 years.

"I'm glad we got it up. There were those who really wanted us to doubt it," said Abigail Jordan, a retired teacher who spent 10 years and $100,000 of her savings to make the monument a reality.

Jordan fought with city officials over the monument's inscription a quotation by author Maya Angelou describing slaves "in the holds of the slave ships in each others' excrement and urine."

Mayor Floyd Adams worried that the quote was too graphic for a public monument.

But city officials approved the quotation in May when Angelou agreed to add a few words to the end of the quote.

Engraved in bold letters on the monument's granite base is now the phrase: "Today, we are standing up together, with faith and even some joy."

Among those who applauded the wording was Johnnie Simpson of Texas City, Tex., who drove to Savannah with her friend and granddaughter.

"We don't see many monuments and statues dedicated to us," said Simpson, a retired telephone company worker who is black. "It feels like it's a big deal to me. How many times do you get this close to see something like this?"

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