Truths that Rise from the Roots Remembered (Alexandria, VA)

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Dublin Core


Truths that Rise from the Roots Remembered (Alexandria, VA)


Subject (Topic)
African American history
Alexandria (Va.)--History
American South
Public art
Public sculpture

Subject (Object Type)
Commemorative sculpture


Truths that Rise from the Roots Remembered is located in the Alexandria African American Heritage Park, a nine acre memorial park. The park was the site of a historic Black Baptist Cemetery, established in 1885, and later descecrated when the City of Alexandria used the space as a landfill in the early 1960s. Through archaeological excavations, (1985-1992), six headstones were identified and remain in their original location. The park was designed to co-exist with the original landscape of the cemetery and to preserve the wetlands on the site.

Truths that Rise from the Roots Remembered includes a group of three stylized bronze trees whose surfaces are etched with names, historical information, and photographs of the African American community in Alexandria; a commemorative grave mound sculpture with limestone supports; and a bronze bookstand. The trees and mound are contained within a circle surrounded by gray flag stone and a semi-circular brick wall. Embedded in the gray flagstone is a red limestone circle, marked with the compass points.


Meadows, Jerome, 1951-


Photographs by Renée Ater


Dedicated: June 17, 1995


EDAW (now AECOM); Norfolk Southern Corporation; Carlyle Development; and The City of Alexandria.






Visual Arts-Sculpture


309 Holland Lane, Alexandria, VA 22314, United States

Has Part

Plaque at the entrance to the Alexandria African American Heritage Park (left):
From the establishment of Alexandria in 1749 to the present time, African Americans have been a vibrant part of this city’s history. The City of Alexandria would not exist in its present form were it not for the economic, social, and cultural contributions of African Americans both slave and free. As Alexandria developed in the 19th century, African Americans began to establish enclaves with distinctive names and characteristics. Many of these areas such as: The Berg, The Bottoms, Cross Canal, Hayti, The Hump, Sunnyside, and Uptown survive today and retain historical significance for African Americans currently living in Alexandria. From these original African American neighborhoods, a sense of community developed, which led to the creation of churches, schools, civic and social organizations. these memorial sculptures in this park highlight people and institutions important to Alexandria’s African American heritage.

The land for this memorial is of special significance. In 1885 this parcel of land was purchased by the Black Baptist Cemetery Association and a number of gravesites remain here. Hooff’s Run, which runs through this site provided access to the Potomac River and the town of Alexandria for a variety of traders and retailers. By the middle of the 19th century, railroads provided a new transportation system. Established about 1851, the first railroad in this vicinity was the Orange and Alexandria which passed through this land on its way from the town center to more western parts of Virginia.

The Norfolk Southern Corporation has set aside this land as a memorial to recognize and celebrate and commemorate African American contributions to the Alexandria community. The Alexandria African American Heritage Park, a gift to the City from the Norfolk Southern Corporation, will contribute to the rich cultural heritage of Alexandria. The history and accomplishments of African American leaders will stimulate young people to develop esteem, hope, determination, and pride in themselves. The memorial park coexists with the original landscape of the cemetery and preserves the interesting and varied plant life on this site. The design creates an atmosphere suitable for nature walks or meditation.

Plaque at the entrance to Alexandria African American Heritage Park (right):
Truths That Rise From The Roots — Remembered

We bury more than our bodies at rest
Deep within the forgiving soil
We bury as well our 
Our dreams, our legends, our revelry, our toil
Here is where we enshrine our wisdom
To be joined with that of our yesteryears
And here is where our tomorrows are planted
As lessons learned against future fears

The artistic works incorporated into this Memorial/Park offer a symbolic testament to the efforts and accomplishments of a great many local individuals, institutions and organizations both past and present. The names and images etched upon these forms, as an acknowledgment of but some of those who have ’passed this way before’, represent the foundation, the builders, the source and substance of this historic and vibrant community. As a context in which history and art are joined this public-art setting serves as a cultural marker — a communal space in which the sons and daughters of the here and now celebrate and honor the heroes of their past.

Jerome B. Meadows — Artist
Zoe Briscoe — Research, Technical Assistant
Park Design — EDAW

Etching on the commemorative grave mound sculpture:
Black Baptist Cemetery Association 1885

From the past they speak, in varied voice and familiar faces

Mary Rome
Matilda Gaines
Sarah Hunter
Abraham Hunter
Julia Ann Washington

Etching on the tree nearest to commemorative grave mound, left side:

Alexandria Academy

Washington Free School

Mt. Hope Academy 1837-1843
Alfred Perry

Sylvia Morris

Lancasterian School

Society of Friends

American Baptist Free Mission Society

Mary Chase 1861

Saint Robe Institute 1881
Jane A. Crouch
Miss Sarah Gray

First Select Colored School 1862
Rev. and Mrs. Robinson
Rev. G.W. Parker
Amanda Borden

The First Free Colored Mission Day School 1863

Union Town School 1863
Nancy Williams

The Primary School 1863
William K. Harris
Richard H. Lyles

Newtown School 1863
Anna Bell Davis
Leannah Powell

The Sickles Barracks School 1863

The Jacobs Free School 1864
Louisa Jacobs
Harriet Jacobs
Miss S.Y. Lawton
Miss E.M. Lawton

First National Freedmen’s School 1864

Harriet Byron Douglass 1864

Second National Freedmen’s School
Rev. M.F. Sluby
Laura Phenix

Miss M.F. Simms

Mary M. Nickens

The Washington St. School
Miss L.V. Lewis

Etching on the tree nearest to commemorative grave mound, right side:
Pennsylvania Freedmen’s Relief Association 1865
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands
Gustavus Lumpkins 1867

First Free School Society of Alexandria
George Seaton
George W. Bryant
Anthony L. Perpener
Hannibal King
James Piper
George P. Douglas
John H. Davis
Samuel W. Madden
J. Mck. Ware
Charles Watson
George W. Parker
Rev. Clem Robinson
George W. Sims

Snowden School for Boys
William F. Powell
Carrie Claggett
John Parker
Patrick H. Lumpkins

Hallowell School for Girls
Matilda A. Madden

Parker-Gray School 1920
Henry T. White
Laura Dorsey
Susie P. Madden
Margaret T. Young
Sarah D. Gray
Harriet Thornton
James B. Howard
Rozier D. Lyles
E. Anderson
Rev. A.W. Adkins
Wesley Elam
William Pitts
Ferris Holland
Louis Johnson
Edward L. Patterson
John T. Butler

Lyles-Crouch Elementary School
Julia Pritchett

Seminary School
Geraldine Stevenson

St. Joseph’s Catholic School
The Oblate Sisters of Providence
Sister Mary John Bearchmann
Sister Mary Eusebius

Charles Houston Elementary School
Helen L. Davis

Martha Millier-Kindergarten

Saretta N. Cope-Kindergarten

Etching on the second tree from the commemorative grave mound, left side:
Alfred Street Baptist Church 1801
Jesse Henderson
Evans Williams
Daniel Taylor
Rev. Samuel Madden
Rev. Alexander A. Truatt
Rev. Andrew W. Adkins

“Old Zion” Methodist Church 1832

Roberts Memorial United Methodist Church 1832
James Harper
Francis Hoy
James Evans
Philip Hamilton
Simon Turley
Rev. James Thomas
Rev. Robert H. Robinson
Rev. James Howard

Beulah Baptist Church 1863
Rev. Clem Robinson

Zion Baptist Church 1864
Rev. Robert Woodson, Pastor

Shiloh Baptist Church 1865
Rev. Charles H. Rodgers
Rev. Leland Warring

Second Baptist Church

Third Baptist Church 1865
Rev. Samuel Stewart
Rev. Samuel Ross

Meade Memorial Espiscopal Church 1869
Rev. J.W.M. Powell
Canon John G. Davis

Ebenezer Baptist 1880
Rev. Field Cooke
Rev. L. Henry Bailey
Rev. W. Howard Stanton
Rev. N.B. Hargraves
Rev. Austin A. Booker

Good Shepard Episcopal Chapel 1880

St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Mission

Etching on the second tree from the commemorative grave mound, right side:
Mt. Jezreel 1890
Rev. Coleman
Rev. O.L. Miles

Oakland Baptist Church 1891
Rev. E.R. Jackson
Clara Adams
William Carpenter
Brook Johnson
William Jerrell
John W. Casey
Maggie Hall
Smith Wahler
Daniel Simms, Jr.
Nancy Shepherd
Harriet Short
Matilda Woods
Mollie Nelson

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church 1915
Thomas Blair
Katie Bowman
Carrie Crouch
John Johnson
John Parker

Tabernacle of God and Saints of Christ 1921

St. John’s Baptist Church 1926

Rev. and Mrs. J.G. West
Deacon David Askew
Deacon Raymond
Deacon Holmes

Bethel Presbyterian Church

Community Presbyterian Church 1928
Rev. Richard B. Strong

United House of Prayer

Russell Temple C.M.E. 1941

Alleyne AME Zion Church 1949
Rev. Frederick Douglass Williams
Rev. Grayson Kelch

Etching on the third tree from the commemorative grave mound, left side:
Thomas Fuller - 1789
Bejamin Banneker - 1791
William Goddard
Dominick Bearcroft
Alexander Bryan - 1833
Mary Savoy - 1839
David Jarbour
H. Dulany - 1850
Mary Cole
John Williams
Moses Hepburn
John Hepburn
Henry Anderson
Charles Watson
George Seaton
John Seaton
Nellie Whiting
Magnus L. Robinson
Norman B. Pinn

Freeman N.M. Murray
The Home News, 1900
Edmund Hill
W. Walter Jackson
Murray Brothers Printers, 1903
Raymond H. Murray
F. Morris Murray
Norman D. Murray
Miss. Susie B. Buckner

Florence Murray
Lewis Smith
Samuel A. Tucker
L.H. Williams

Alexandria Home Bakery
John W. Jackson

Margaret Evans
Washington Jackson
Thomas Arrington
Laura Watson
Harriet Ware

Etching on the third tree from the commemorative grave mound, right side:
Professor T.E. Dulany
C. William Gray
W.C. Arnold
Lloyd Lewis
Richard N. Poole
Henry Brooks
Mrs. Mattie Brooks
Mrs. Katie Skinner
Mrs. Lorraine Funn Atkins
Mrs. Annie B. Rose
Mrs. Connie Chissell
George Gaddis
Arthur Bracey

Library Sit-In - 1939
B. Wilbert Tucker
Morris Murray
Edward Gaddis
Clarence "Buck" Strange
Sgt. George Watson

Albert Johnson - 1892
J. Milton Hopkins - c. 1894
Frederick P. barrier - c. 1917
Oswald Durant
Henry Ladrey
C. Aubrey Lindo
Abe Penn
Paul Piper
Charles West
Herbert G. Chissell
James Carpenter
Newman C. Taylor
Frederick Perry
W. Lee Harris
Elijah E. Lacey
T. Bernard Blue
William Skinner

James Webster
Thomas Watson
William Macmurray
J. Byron Hopkins
Alfred Collins
Judge Joseph Waddy
James Raby


Varied: 144 in. to 180 in. (365.76 cm. to 457.2 cm.)


Bronze; Brick; Grey stone

Bibliographic Citation

Cressey, Pamela. “Sculpture Provides Inspriation.” Alexandria Gazette Packet, July 20, 1995. Accessed August 14, 2019,

Anderson, Adrian D. The African American Heritage Park, Alexandria, Virginia. Minneapolis, MN: Tellus Consultants, 1992. Accessed August 14, 2019,

Rights Holder

Renée Ater

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format


Physical Dimensions

Varied: 144 in. to 180 in. (365.76 cm. to 457.2 cm.)


Meadows, Jerome, 1951-, “Truths that Rise from the Roots Remembered (Alexandria, VA),” Contemporary Monuments to the Slave Past, accessed May 28, 2024,