Local News

'Oberlin Rising:' Raleigh sculpture, park project honors historic freed slave community

Posted November 17, 2017 7:30 p.m. EST
Updated November 17, 2017 7:42 p.m. EST

— While construction inside the Raleigh Beltline is not unusual, a local artist has launched a unique project to honor the history and meaning of the Historic Oberlin Village community.

Thomas Sayre's project memorializes the community established in the 1870s by 750 freed slaves and their families in the years following the Civil War.

The people tilled their own land and began their free lives just yards away from today's Cameron Village shopping center.

The park will feature symbolic parts of the community's beliefs, including a sculpture to commemorate the people and their relationship with nature.

"I knew a little about Oberlin, but learned a lot more and realized this is kind of sacred dirt here," Sayre said. "We're making a sculpture that will be surrounded by a little park that is a memorization of Oberlin, a community that still exists."

The park will be a natural area for the Raleigh community enjoy, while honoring the harvesting memories, beliefs and traditions of the Oberlin Village community.

"There will be a sign here that says Oberlin rising." Sayre said. "Earth casting is using mother earth as a mold for reinforced concrete that's then pulled up out of the earth and stood up against father sky,"

The art is on private land and funded with private funds from the York Family.

"In the end, art is a collaboration between human intention what we want to have happen, and nature pushing back its color and its rocks and its texture, like farming," Sayre said.