by Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator
Louisiana has erected a new monument to Black military service members in the state’s Veterans Memorial Park adjacent to the State Capitol.
Unveiled on July 19, the sculpture honors Louisiana soldiers and people from around the country. It depicts buffalo soldiers, Secretary of Defense Llyod James Austin III, Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, Secretary of State Colin Powell and General Michael E. Langley, among others.
The state commissioned artist Sheleen Jones of New Orleans, a professor at Xavier University of Louisiana, to create the sculpture.
The monument was inspired by Black soldiers who served in a Civil War battle in Port Hudson, Louisiana. Gov. John Bel Edwards said he worried those Union Army members had not been properly honored and started pushing for the monument. Many of the soldiers who died at Port Hudson were not even given a proper burial, according to Southern University research.
State Sen. Gerald Boudreaux, D-Lafayette, sponsored legislation to establish the monument in 2021. It passed unanimously with bipartisan support.
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