Bronze statue Dean memorial donations reach 73% of goal

A small version of a planned bronze statue of Jennie Dean slated to be erected in Manassas. [Photo: Manassas City Government]

City officials continue their push for donations for a Jennie Deane bronze memorial statue.

Manassas Councilwoman Michelle Davis-Younger said the city has raised $129,000 in the effort to revitalize Jennie Dean Memorial Park, outside the elementary school of the same name on Wellington Road. A total of $175,000 is needed for the project.

A statue of Dean was originally slated to be installed last year if the project met its fundraising goals, marking the 126th anniversary of post-Civil War industrial school that Dean founded for African-Americans in what today is Manassas City, in 1893. Born into slavery in 1852, Dean is remembered for championing education for black Prince William County residents in the dark times following the Civil War.

The city council opened the first phase of the Jennie Dean memorial in 1995. Now, 25 years later, the city plans to update the memorial that marks the location of the old industrial school with new landscaping, and an amphitheater for shows and events.

At the entrance of the updated memorial will stand a bronze statue of Dean created by artist Chris Hill, whose other works include a statue of a 7-foot tall statue of Harriet Tubman and a bust of former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry.

Statement from Hill dated June 1, 2018 | Jennie Dean was, above all, an altruist determined to elevate the welfare of her people through education, faith and tradesman ship. In order to convey this, I have designed Jennie Dean with an outstretched hand reaching towards viewers, as if inviting to lift them up.

Her forward leg is bracing for the viewer to take her hand. She is bent slightly at the waist in order to lower her hand within reach. Her hand will be approximately eye level with the viewer. Her left arm is outstretched, forming a clear line between the head, the heart, and the hand. These are the three parts of the body Jennie Dean had wished to strengthen through academic education, participation in faith services, and training in trade and industry.

Over time, I hope that people will take her hand and wear away its patina. When this hand begins to polish and shine, it will reflect the engagement Jennie Dean continues to inspire in the community.

Donations for the updated park and statue are being accepted online.

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