Under the Dome

McCrory kicks off plans for Capitol monument honoring black history

Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration has joined long-delayed efforts to erect a monument on the State Capitol grounds honoring African-Americans’ contributions to North Carolina.

McCrory’s office announced on Wednesday that the N.C. Historical Commission has voted to begin planning the memorial next year.

McCrory recommended to state Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz that the historical commission endorse the plan, according to his office. The commission is part of Kluttz’s department.

“This memorial will not only commemorate an important part of our history, it will inspire future generations to make history of their own that will contribute to the fabric of our great state,” McCrory said in a statement his office released.

Planners will begin by looking at the three unoccupied corners on the State Capitol grounds in downtown Raleigh. The Vietnam Memorial is at the northeast corner of the grounds.

In 2002, the Paul Green Foundation kicked off a public discussion of establishing a monument to reflect the African-American experience in the state. In 2006, the Freedom Monument Project focused on a proposed site at Wilmington and Lane streets, and money was allocated for it in the state budget.

But the recession halted those plans. In 2010, the Historical Commission endorsed adding Capitol plaques commemorating African-Americans, and recommended lifting a 25-year moratorium on new monuments.

Renewed efforts to resuscitate the project were sparked by the Confederate flag controversy in several states earlier this year. Monument proponents saw that as an opportunity for North Carolina to affirm its acknowledgment of black history in the state.

According to McCrory’s office, a new monument on the Capitol grounds would complement the Freedom Monument Project public art planned for two blocks away.

A planning committee will be comprised of three commissioners and three members of the African American Heritage Commission. Themes for the monument that came out of a 2010 study will be shared with prospective designers. The N.C. Arts Council will come up with a call for entries.