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Sculpture that honors the United States Colored Troops to be unveiled Saturday

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 4:29 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 12, 2021 at 4:15 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - “Boundless,” a public sculpture honoring the United States Colored Troops (USCT), will be unveiled by the Cameron Art Museum (CAM) during a weekend event to be held November 13–14.

The sculpture was created by North Carolina artist Stephen Hayes and will be presented by PNC Bank.

“Using the busts of their descendants, we still talk about that fight that we’re fighting for now,” said Hayes. “You know for their freedom or trying to be equal. The name of this sculpture in boundless. There’s a boundless fight that we’re going to have to have — that we’re going to continue to fight for.”

According to a news release, the grounds of the CAM is where the USCT fought the Battle of Forks Road.

Located on the site of the Battle of Forks Road on the grounds of CAM, “Boundless” will feature the life casts of 11 African American men connected to the Battle of Forks Road and its story – USCT descendants, reenactors, veterans, and local community leaders. Josiah Patrick, a Wilmington man whose features are used in the sculpture, is a descendant of four USCT soldiers. He is just one of the local men whose features were used for the sculpture.

During a time when issues of race and systemic racism are at the forefront of people’s minds, it is hoped the sculpture will provide context for the Wilmington community as it tries to reconcile a past tainted by white supremacy. For Hayes the sculpture is personal.

“As a Black man in America, you see the imagery of a Black person in chains, being whipped, begging, kneeling and helpless,” said Hayes. “This project is important to me because, as a creator, I get to change that narrative — by giving Black soldiers a sense of honor and pride.”

Artist Stephen Hayes created the sculpture of the United States Colored Troops that...
Artist Stephen Hayes created the sculpture of the United States Colored Troops that commemorates the 1,600 brave African American soldiers who fought for their freedom and the freedom of their families at the Battle of Forks Road during the Civil War.(Cameron Art Museum)

The project received support from individual, corporate, and foundation donors from across the nation.

“We are grateful for the community’s continued interest in this ambitious and meaningful project,” said Anne Brennan, executive director of CAM. “The challenging events of the past year have brought renewed meaning to the vision for Boundless, helping promote social change.”

The unveiling events and celebration of the USCT will span two days and will include music, storytelling, family activities, and food trucks. Admission is free on both days.

The celebration kicks off at 11 am with the procession of USCT reenactors followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Mary D. Williams and remarks by CAM’s Executive Director Anne Brennan, Mayor Bill Saffo and County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield. Programs will run throughout the day on Saturday, November 13 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 14.

Click here for full details of the event.

The Cameron Arts Museum produced a documentary entitled “The Battle of Forks Road” details what happened on the grounds of the Cameron Art Museum in 1865. Click here to watch the full documentary.

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