City embraces history, preparing for Ivers Square ceremony Saturday

A new statue is in place at Ivers Square, and now the scenery of the park seems to better match the name.

On Saturday, there will be an official unveiling and dedication ceremony from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Common Pleas Courthouse park, now known as Ivers Square.

At 11 a.m. that day, descendants of the Ivers family will unveil the statue, which honors those who enlisted in the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War. The statue, according to officials, was designed by sculptor Roy W. Butler. It is the final casting from a mold that was used to make two other statutes in Tennessee and Arkansas.

The park was renamed for Harriet and James Ivers in 2017. James and Harriett were slaves owned by a former mayor, John Ivers Jr. — history made known by local historian Denise Lincoln, who has written columns about the Ivers in previous editions of the Southeast Missourian.

Later, as the Civil War resulted in chaos and disruptions, James Ivers was one of many who ran away from masters and joined the Union Army. James left his young family and enlisted. He was one of 75 slaves in Cape Girardeau who left their owners to fight in the Civil War, climbing the courthouse hill to enlist. In the war, Pvt. Ivers developed respiratory problems and died of consumption at the age of 36, leaving his wife and three children behind. Harriet received a war widow’s pension and worked for wages following the war, attaining enough resources to own her own property, one of the first black women to do so in Cape Girardeau.

The ceremony Saturday will include performance artist Marlene Rivero as Harriet Ivers. Marvin-Alonzo Greer will portray the Rev. Spotswood Rice, who pastored Cape Girardeau St. James AME Church in 1870. There will be other tributes, Civil War re-enactors and musical performances, as well.

What a great way to honor the brave men and woman who risked their lives for just the opportunity to fight for freedom. We hope you can attend the festivities.