WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Monday celebrated passage of the National Liberty Memorial Preservation Act, which was included in the fiscal year 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act that President Biden signed in December. The legislation authorizes construction of the National Liberty Memorial, a monument to honor the Black and Indigenous soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War. U.S. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.-12) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“More than 800 Black Americans from Connecticut fought in the Revolutionary War, risking their lives for a country that would not recognize them as full citizens for nearly another century,” said Murphy. “The work to honor their sacrifice began in Plainville decades ago, and I’m proud the National Liberty Memorial in Washington, D.C will finally become a reality. This memorial will ensure future generations learn about the bravery and patriotism of enslaved and free Black Revolutionary soldiers.” 

“Black and Indigenous people were among the thousands of soldiers who put everything on the line in the name of freedom for our country. Unfortunately, few Americans today know their story. Too often, the teaching of the American Revolution fails to mention the contributions of Black and Indigenous soldiers, and at worst, it completely erases them from the historical record. By establishing a memorial in their honor, this legislation will rewrite these brave soldiers into the narrative,” said Watson Coleman.

Murphy first became involved in the effort after former U.S. Senators Chris Dodd and Joseph Lieberman successfully led the fight to pass legislation that, in 2013, was signed into law by President Obama and authorized construction of the new memorial. At least 820 African American soldiers served in the Revolutionary War from Connecticut.

Efforts to establish the National Liberty Memorial began when Lena Santos Ferguson, an African American woman from Plainville, CT, sought to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. The settlement of her claim of discrimination in 1984 obligated DAR to identify and publish the names of every Black soldier and patriot of the Revolutionary War.  Finally, the research Mrs. Ferguson insisted upon was published in 2008.  More than 5,000 enslaved and free African Americans were identified in a 900-page volume. Ferguson’s nephew, Maurice Barboza, the memorial's founder, and her lawyers, worked with Mrs. Ferguson, until her death in 2004 and beyond, to ensure the integrity of the eventual research and that as many deserving patriots are honored for the creation of the United States.

The National Liberty Memorial will be built by National Memorial Liberty Fund D.C., a private nonprofit established to lead the effort to raise donations and construct the memorial.

“The story of African Americans is inextricably woven to Washington and other founding fathers. Without the 22 memorials to heroes within 880 yards of the White House, there would be no context in which to appreciate the particular nature of their determination and achievements. Our preferred location on the Mall has a panoramic view of the Washington Monument and the opportunity to weave a magnificent story… This symbol will unify the best and the unmentionable parts of history into a singular and sustaining narrative. Tourists flocking to the Mall in four years will be able to affirm the permanency of our democracy and bonds of citizenship,” said Maurice Barboza, founder and CEO of the National Mall Liberty Fund D.C.