On June 1, 2022, the Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment, was rededicated 135 years after it was first unveiled in Boston, Massachusetts. The bronze relief sculpture sits opposite the Massachusetts State House at the edge of Boston Common in the heart of downtown Boston and was the first monument to Black soldiers in the Civil War. At the ceremony, Yale historian David Blight called it the “greatest work of public art in the United States,” and said that more poetry and songs have been written about it than any other monument in the country. When Civil War statues were being taken down in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police, Blight said this monument has “always been here saying the Confederacy did not win that war.” 

This ceremony served as a public unveiling of the sculpture after having undergone a two-year, three-million-dollar restoration, which included repair to the brass section of the monument and rebuilding the concrete foundation. The event was attended by members of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment Company A, a group of Black Civil War re-enactors who dress up as the 54th Regiment, the first Black regiment from the north to fight in the Civil War, formed after the Emancipation Proclamation, after Frederick Douglass’s work to convince Abraham Lincoln to recruit Black soldiers. The soldiers themselves raised funds for the monument starting shortly after their 1863 attack on Fort Wagner in South Carolina. 

The monument is part of Boston’s Black Freedom Trail. 

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