Embrace and Belonging

A monument to symbolize the commitment to strengthening our community


Why Does this Matter to You? 

 Monuments reflect the values and stories of the community. The location of where we place monuments are also important and powerful in making a statement about our identity, history and future as a City. 

April 2024 Update

In the summer of 2021, following the 2020 social justice uprisings and racial reckoning, the City of Burlington's Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (REIB) office conceived of a public art project that would become a landmark focal point for the community creating a permanent physical monument to inspire change in the community. This permanent artwork would replace the temporary “Black Lives Matter” mural on Main St.


Collaborating with Burlington City Arts (BCA) and Burlington Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront (BPRW), REIB identified Dewey Park as an ideal location, due to its central position in the Old North End, its welled traveled, and had no existing public art. This location would ensure visibility to a broad scope of community members, particularly Burlington’s youth.


That same year, REIB partnered with BCA to issue a call to artists, support the selection process, and manage the implementation process. The selection panel, comprised of community members in Burlington, representatives from the neighborhood, the ONE Farmers Market, students engaged with REIB, and others selected Humanity Memorial, led by renowned sculptor Ai Qiu Hopen, and their design Embrace and Belonging.


The monument, which uses the imagery of two entwined symbols inspired by Sankofa birds, their heads turning past one another and embracing, is intended to evoke a societal impetus to reflect on our shared history. The design would inspire its admirers to harvest from the past what is meaningful for building a better future in the face of racism. The design is likewise intended to build a sense of “Radical Belonging,” which involves moving past mere tolerance to true integration, beyond merely tolerating your neighbors, but finding bridges and enhancing the greater good.


This work will center conversations around belonging, racial equity, and affinity. Creating a flexible narrative that represents the diverse experiences of neighborhood residents, the sculpture is a vector to tell the stories past, present, and future of the Old North End and greater Burlington community.


After public meetings, community feedback, and site preparation completed by BPRW, the foundation work began on April 23, 2024 and the project is estimated to take 10 days to complete the concrete footing for the artwork. After completing the foundation, the majority of the park will remain open to the community, with only a partial section restricted temporarily for grass reestablishment. 


The second phase involves installing the Embrace and Belonging sculpture itself. The installation of the completed sculpture is scheduled to begin during the week of June 10, where a few days will be allocated to complete the process.  

REIB and the City are excited to invite everyone from the community to the unveiling of Embrace and Belonging on Friday, June 14 at 11:00. This event will kick off the City’s 4th Juneteenth celebration and will highlight the food, music, and art in the Old North End and beyond. 




Questions specific about the Embrace and Belonging Monument.

Project Managers: Phet Keomanyvanh, pkeomanyvanh@burlingtonvt.gov  


Colin Storrs cstorrs@burlingtoncityarts.org

 For Information and questions about other Dewey Park Projects

Project Manager: Sophie Sauvé, ssauve@burlingtonvt.gov

Here is the project page: Dewey Park Project Updates | Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront (enjoyburlington.com)

History and FAQ pages