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Utah’s Black pioneers in Mormon migration honored with monument


(CNN) — Utah officials, along with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, unveiled a monument Friday honoring African American pioneers at a park in Salt Lake City.

The monument, entitled Pioneers of 1847 Monument, honors the lives of Black pioneers who took part in the Latter-day Saint migration and the settlement of Utah, according to a news release from This Is the Place Heritage Park.

Honoring the lives of Black pioneers Green Flake, Hark Wales, Oscar Smith, and Jane Manning James, the sculptures are cast in bronze and feature dedications engraved in stone, a news release shows.

Three of the four pioneers honored by the monument — Flake, Wales, and Smith — were born into slavery in the South, eventually joining the Mormon faith and traveling west with other church members, according to engravings on the statues.

“(Flake) was joined by his future brothers-in-law, Hark Wales, and Oscar Smith. The group of forty-two men and twenty-three wagons blazed the trail for tens of thousands to follow,” an engraving on a statue honoring Flake reads.

The fourth Pioneer honored by the monument, Jane Elizabeth Manning, was born free in Connecticut to a Latter-day Saints family. Manning, along with her husband and their two sons, later traveled to Salt Lake Valley to escape religious persecution.

“Jane was expecting her third child Mary Ann, when she and her family entered the Salt Lake Valley in September 1847,” an engraving reads.

The Pioneers of 1847 Monument was made possible through private donations, according to a news release.

Republican Gov. Spencer Cox was present at the monument’s unveiling.

“The ritual of a remembrance is something we need to be reminded of,” Cox said during a speech Friday. “Today we are remembering as we mark the 175th anniversary of the pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley.”

The monument was unveiled ahead of Pioneer Day, which is held every year on July 24.

The Utah State holiday commemorates the date that Mormon pioneers arrived in the state in 1847, according to Andrew Wittenberg, director of communications for Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.

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