This monument, found on Potomac Street in Harpers Ferry, has been a source of controversy since its dedication on October 10, 1931.
On the night of October 16, 1859, Heyward Shepherd, an industrious and respected colored Freeman, was mortally wounded by John Brown’s Raiders, in pursuance of his duties as an employee of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. He became the first victim of this attempted insurrection.
This boulder is erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans as a memorial to Heyward Shepherd, exemplifying the character and faithfulness of thousands of Negroes who, under many temptations throughout subsequent years of war, so conducted themselves that no stain was left upon a record which is the peculiar heritage of the American people, and an everlasting tribute to the best in both races.
On May 21, 1932, this response:
In 1932, W.E.B. Du Bois, founder of the Niagara Movement and a founder of the American Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), responded to the Shepherd Monument by penning these words:
Here John Brown aimed at human slavery a blow that woke a guilty nation. With him fought seven slaves and sons of slaves. Over his crucified corpse marched 200,000 black soldiers and 4,000,000 freedmen singing:
“John Brown’s Body lies a mouldering in the grave
But his Soul Goes Marching on!”
For an excellent article that examines the controversy surrounding the Heywood Shepherd Memorial follow this link