Freedom Suits Memorial

KWAME served as the construction manager for the Freedom Suits Memorial, dedicated to honor hundreds of slaves who risked their lives to sue for their freedom in Missouri in the 1800s. 

The memorial, which sits in front of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis where the Dred Scott Case was tried. 

The project was spearheaded by St. Louis Circuit Judge David Mason who originally discovered the Freedom Suite files in the 1990s. According to Mason, more than 130 slaves were freed out of the approximately 400 cases that were filed.

The memorial features a 14-foot bronze statue, a freedom walk of stone pavers that lead to the monument, bench seating and landscaping. The sculpture, by nationally-recognized sculptor Preston Jackson, depicts scenes from the six-decade legal effort by slaves and their attorneys to gain freedom. The 8,000-pound black granite base includes the names of the hundreds of enslaved plaintiffs. 

Extensive planning and thought went into lighting design and how the statue was mounted so that the history of the piece could be captured from all angles and visible at various times of day. KWAME oversaw the project, including hiring and coordinating contractors, working with the design team to convert conceptual landscape drawings into working plans, overseeing installation and communicating with all stakeholders. 

“The Freedom Suits project has much more significance on so many levels than any of the larger projects KWAME has been involved with,” said Tony Thompon, President of Kwame Building Group. “Judge Mason was a personal friend of my mother, Betty Thompson. He told me stories of how she helped him and other attorneys and judges when she was a state representative.”