4. Contrabands & Freedmen Cemetery
1001 S. Washington St. (at the corner of Church St.)
Between 1864 and 1869, the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery served as the burial place for about 1,800 African Americans who fled to Union-occupied Alexandria to escape from bondage. The memorial park commemorates the free African American men, women and children interred on the cemetery grounds. Dedicated in 2014, the memorial features a sculpture by artist Mario Chiodo, creator of the Yoda prototype from Star Wars, called The Path of Thorns and Roses, an allegorical depiction of the struggle for freedom. Bas-reliefs depicting the flight to freedom and contraband education were completed by late local sculptor Joanna Blake and tell vivid stories of what life was like for the newly freed. The contraband story figures prominently in the national PBS Civil War drama series Mercy Street.
How to Access: Park beside the shops and restaurants along the 800 block of S. Washington St. and walk two blocks southward or turn right and park on Church St. Please note: Do not drive past Church St., or you will need to take the George Washington Memorial Parkway several miles in order to turn around.