You may have recently noticed a new monument situated on Ivers Square across from the fountain next to the Annex. We’re proud to say that Cape Girardeau is one of the three locations to host this United States Colored Troop statue (the other locations being Nashville National Cemetery and Freedom Park in Helena, Arkansas)!
This statue seeks to honor African Americans who enlisted in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War. The square, formerly known as Courthouse Park was renamed for Harriet and James Ivers in 2017. This site was the very place James Ivers and other slaves enlisted in the Union Army to fight for their own freedom.
Along with the statue, interpretive panels have also been installed that interpret major topics including the history of the Ivers, the compelling story of the other enslaved individuals who enlisted at the courthouse, the role of Missouri’s U.S. Colored Troops in the war effort, and the history of the existing union and confederate memorials on the grounds, thereby providing a greater context for those monuments.
On June 8, Old Town Cape will present the statue to the City of Cape Girardeau in a special dedication ceremony at 11 a.m. with descendants of the Ivers family. Join us in the celebration surrounding the event from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The day’s activities will include a cameo by Marlene Rivero as Harriet Ivers. Rivero of Grand Chain, Illinois is a performance artist who portrays African American women in history. Marvin-Alonzo Greer of the Missouri History Center and the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum at St. Louis will portray Rev. Spotswood Rice. Rice, a former USCT soldier, pastored Cape’s St. James AME Church in 1870. There will be tributes by the Marine Corps Color Guard and the Turner Brigade, a group of local Civil War reenactors, as well as several musical performances.
Local historian Denise Lincoln has done extensive research into the U.S. Colored Troops and written about them and their families. She was part of a team that also included Dr. Steven Hoffman and Bonnie Kipper that spearheaded the drive to obtain the statue. Their partnership with Old Town Cape helped facilitate the gifting of the statue to the City of Cape Girardeau. The statue project was made possible through the generous support of The Bank of Missouri, a private foundation, with additional support from First Presbyterian Church, the Hutson Family, Isle Casino Cape Girardeau, and other private donors as well as a grant from the Missouri Humanities Council. The statue was designed by renowned sculptor Roy W. Butler and was completed Feb. 12 by foundry artisans in Utah.
Please join us as we honor and celebrate our history on June 8! Rain location TBD.