Written by Erica Stewart, Manager, Public Affairs
Shockoe Bottom in downtown Richmond, Virginia, was once the second-largest slave trading site in the country. Today, it is mostly a patchwork of vacant lots and surface parking.
This is no way to treat the land on which men, women and children were bought, sold, and tortured. Neither is building a major league ballpark upon it, which is exactly what Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones is proposing in his “Revitalize RVA” plan.
This threat prompted us to list Shockoe Bottom to 2014’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places and also to name it to our portfolio of National Treasures. We are now working with Preservation Virginia, local leaders, and national experts to shape an alternative development plan that would excavate the archeological remains that lie beneath the ballpark site and uplift Shockoe Bottom as a place for reflection, healing, and learning. (Read more about the project in this previous post.)
Our work caught the attention of actress Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Patsey in the film “12 Years a Slave,” based on the memoir of free man-turned-slave Solomon Northrup. She was moved to write a passionate hand-written letter to the mayor, expressing her desire to see Shockoe Bottom preserved as a site of conscience. Here’s what she had to say.... Read More →
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