In 1998, which marked the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, the town council decided to erect a commemorative monument on Quai de la Fosse.

In 2002, following an international competition, the City of Nantes chose a project proposed by Krzysztof Wodiczko, an internationally-renowned artist born in Poland in 1943 and based in the United States since 1986. His work displays a profound commitment to human rights, in favour of migrants, the homeless, victims and the oppressed. It gives representation to « others », foreigners and those deprived of their rights. Krzysztof Wodiczko worked with the architect Julian Bonder, who is heavily involved in the relationship between memory and public areas. For Nantes, the two artists proposed a meditative project in a place symbolic of Nantes’ port activities, the Quai de la Fosse.

The final project was presented to the town council in 2005, the project management team was selected in 2006 and work began in 2010.