Freedom Park will be officially dedicated at noon this Saturday during a public ceremony. The park is a tribute to where thousands of slaves, known as “Freedom Seekers”, were housed, fed and employed as Union soldiers during the height of the Civil War in 1863.
Located at 750 Biscoe in Historic Helena, Freedom Park features five exhibits that examine the experiences of refugee slaves who came to Helena in search of freedom. The park displays include illustrated panels, life-size sculptures, a structure representing a plantation house, a refugee dwelling and earthwork.
Freedom Park is Arkansas's first National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site.
At the ceremony, the 13th U.S. Colored Troops of Murfreesboro, Tenn. will make the presentation of the colors. Charles McGhee, Entergy's area customer service manager, will offer the welcoming address and Helena-West Helena Mayor Arnell Willis will present some opening remarks. Maria Brent of Mudpuppy & Waterdog of Versailles, Ky., which designed the park, will recognize the sculptors and artists involved in the project.
Artist and Historian Ronnie Nichols, of Potomac, Md. and formerly of Helena, will give the keynote address.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the 35-star U.S. flag will be raised over Freedom Park by 13th USCT assisted by the 33rd Missouri Infantry Rifle Squad from Fort Curtis. Helena-West Helena's Naya Washington will sing the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
The park is part of a 25-stop, self-guided tour presented by Civil War Helena. It will be open from 8 a.m. to sunset daily and admission is free.