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New park in downtown Raleigh honoring several historic African Americans set to open in August

The North Carolina Freedom Park construction.
Reginal Hildebrand
The North Carolina Freedom Park construction.

The North Carolina Freedom Park, a 20-year project, is expected to have its grand opening this summer.

The concept of the North Carolina Freedom Parkstarted back in 2000. When construction is complete, there will be five walkable pathways that feature quotes on its walls from 20 notable African Americans known as the “Voices of Freedom.” Its goal is to honor the African American experience centered around freedom.

“There are quotes from Harriet Jacobs, the woman who wrote Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, speaks to her condition as a Black woman and slavery, [but] also speaks to the condition of women who are denied freedom — whether that's through human trafficking or other kinds of gender-based oppression,” said Reginald Hildebrand, one of the park’s board members.

There will also be a well known quote from Fayetteville native George Floyd that will state “I can’t breathe.”

Hildebrand said the 20 people whose quotes will be on the walls will reflect on what freedom means from their own perspective and time periods.

The pathways of NC Freedom Park will later lead to the park's focal point, a “Beacon of Freedom” monument that is 45 feet high and will illuminate at night. There will also be grassy areas where people can gather for education or cultural events.

“Our park is meant to inspire, encourage and guide people in this country who are struggling for freedom, or looking for opportunity,” said Hildebrand.

Officials with the park are working to create an interactive app and book that will inform visitors about the history of the people behind each quote. The grand opening is expected to be in August.

Sharryse Piggott is WUNC’s PM Reporter.
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