New Statue at Cameron Art Museum Honors American Colored Troops

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Hundreds of people visited the Cameron Art Museum on Saturday, to witness the unveiling of a sculpture and exhibit of artwork depicting African Americans from Cape Town and the country.

The United States Colored Troops Public Statue “Boundless” stands at the site where the Civil War Battle of Forks Road took place on the grounds of the Cameron Art Museum.

The statue was designed by artist and Duke University professor Stephen Hayes, and features casts of the lives of 11 African-American men connected to the Battle of Forks Road, including descendants of American Colored Troops, re-enactors, veterans and local community leaders.

Event attendees Daisy Wooten and Yvonnia Johnson said they were deeply moved by the statue when it was unveiled.

“It made me feel really proud of those who fought for our freedom, because as they said, freedom doesn’t come free,” said Daisy Wooten, participant in the event.

“It also inspired me, to be able to meet the people and some of their family members who are here and still live. I just couldn’t imagine what they went through, so it’s so nice to have this story to pass on from generation to generation,” said event attendee Yvonnia Johnson.

The unveiling event also included music, storytelling, food trucks and free admission to the museum, giving attendees a chance to see “Voices of Future’s Past,” Hayes’ new exhibit that explores issues of race and economy in the United States.

A couple said they believe “Boundless” and “Voices of Future’s Past” will catch the attention of many people outside of Cape Fear.

“It’s a great way to, when you have visitors, I figured I had a place to take them and kind of show them a nice statue of what really happened here in Wilmington,” said declared Fred Atkinson, participant in the event.

“Because if you don’t talk about the story, it gets forgotten, and information like this needs to be spread all over America, really all over the world,” said event attendee Cynthia Atkinson.

Artist Stephen Hayes said he was grateful for the chance to create the piece which was well received and appreciated by those who attended its unveiling.

“It’s something that will help create conversation. It’s the first of its kind and having it here should be a proud feeling. You know, and maybe it’s a destination where people come to see,” said Stephen Hayes.

Heather Wilson, the museum’s assistant director, said she’s glad the museum serves as a place in the community where people can connect with history through art.

“Art has this ability to ask questions, to spark dialogues, and I think it’s a sure way for us to connect, and find our common humanity,” said Heather Wilson, Deputy Director of CAM .

The names of 1,820 soldiers from the United States Colored Troops who fought in the Battle of Forks Road will be permanently inscribed on the Boundless Sculpture in December.

Mildred D. Field