Dozens of supporters attended Richmond's city council meeting on Monday, bearing signs that said "Save Shockoe Bottom" and "Protect Our Sacred Ground." They came to support the community-generated plan for a nine-acre memorial in Shockoe Bottom that would include an African burial ground, the Lumpkin's Jail site, as well as two additional city blocks that were once home to other slave jails and traders' offices.
“The whole story of what happened here in Richmond, Virginia should be told,” said Dawn Smith, whose ancestors are buried in Shockoe Bottom. “Our remains should be respected,” Smith told 8News.
Presented over a year ago, the proposed park covers nearly 100 Shockoe Bottom sites that made Richmond the epicenter of the U.S. domestic slave trade. “We shouldn’t try to hide it anymore,” Smith said of the region’s sometimes ugly history.
The park would include more sites important to the history of slave trade in Richmond than the "narrower, as-of-yet-undefined memorial focused on the Lumpkin’s slave jail archaeology site" favored by Mayor Dwight C. Jones and his administration. Supporters of the larger park, led at Monday's meeting by Richmond Branch NAACP President Lynetta Thompson, continue to push for a more inclusive memorial of Shockoe Bottom's history.