Dec. 7 Symposium Opens at 9 am!

Truth and Conciliation in the 400th Year: A Shockoe Bottom Public History Symposium

It's better if you can join us in person at the Library of Virginia, 800 E. Broad Street, but the symposium will be live-streamed on Facebook.

First, second and third: We end racism.
15 years ago the Defenders held a symposium in the sanctuary of Centenary United Methodist Church on Grace Street just a few blocks from here. Nine scholars and activists shared their research into the history of slavery in Richmond and Virginia highlighting Gabriel's rebellion mark the unveiling of a historic highway marker. A descendant of Gabriel's, Dr. Haskell Bingham, pulled the cloth from the marker that reminds people of the rebellion of 1800, of Gabriel and 25 others whose lives were taken because they challenged society's addiction to slave labor, and the burying ground where the gallows were erected and hundreds or thousands of free and enslaved black people would be buried until 1816. For the Defenders and many others, that day was the beginning of the struggle to reclaim, not only Richmond's African Burial Ground but Richmond's earliest Black history.

Today, December 7, 2019, the Defenders' Sacred Ground Project is proud to present the second symposium--at which twenty-one experienced researchers, writers, museum folk, activists will offer what they have learned since 2004. Each session will last 90 minutes, and we hope you will ask questions they may be able to answer, or, not. And if not, they'll go look it up and find out. But every time you ask, we will all gain or remember another truth and then we'll have to sort out what to do with it.

The Defenders have championed knowing our histories better, and the Memorial Park concept because we believe it can defend the nine acres remaining of the landscape that once held the epicenter of the domestic slave trade and it can spur equitable economic development that will benefit the African descendant people who were forged from their incredibly resilient ancestors. Some in the audience today may not agree and may have ideas of their own. Yet the history that will be presented today will strengthen your ability to determine what solutions are needed.



Dec 7 Symposium program is set!

Coming up:
Nov. 23: Bike & Walker Tours of Shockoe Bottom
Nov. 25: Release of Shockoe Bottom Economic Study Report
Dec. 4: 3rd Shockoe Alliance Public Workshop
Dec. 7: Shockoe Bottom Public History Symposium
Ongoing: Preserve African American Burial Grounds

Dear Friends,

We really hope to see you on Saturday, December 7 at the Library of Virginia! "Truth and Conciliation in the 400th Year: A Shockoe Bottom Public History Symposium" is the first symposium we've hosted since October 10, 2004. On that date, the historic highway marker "Gabriel's Execution" was unveiled on Broad Street at 15th. The marker overlooks the area where once stood not only the gallows on which General Gabriel's life and several others were taken for attempting to end slavery, but also the first racially segregated cemetery plot established by law, by the town council of Richmond in 1799. The unveiling ceremony was attended by 200 people, 185 of whom had attended the symposium earlier that evening.

Then, as now, the intention of the event was to bring historical facts to past and present realities. That symposium consisted of nine speakers in a single panel, and five of them return for this year's event.  Michael Blakey, Elvatrice Belsches, Douglas Egerton, Phil Wilayto, and I will be of the twenty historians, advocates and activists who will update what we knew in 2004. From reclaiming the African Burial Ground, preventing hasty and destructive development plans, to advocating for a protected nine-acre memorial park--where the new and future interpretation of our history in slavery and freedom can be made accurate and visible! So much has happened in those 17 years, much of it unimaginable back then, and is under way because these modest beginnings were timely and reflect our present day debates about racism and what progress means.

So please join us on December 7th. Registration details are at www.dec7symposium.org

Shockoe Alliance Activities

In addition, there are several development, planning and advocacy activities in progress for the Shockoe Bottom area, and it isn't easy to have everyone of those developers, planners or advocates on the same page, even through the Mayor Stoney's attempt at a collaborative initiative, known as the Shockoe Alliance. Please take a moment to learn what each of these projects means for economic and cultural progress in Richmond. The Sacred Ground Project is a participant, but the attention of everyone is essential and we need to you stay informed and to weigh in: www.ShockoeAlliance.org

November 23: Bike & Walking Tours

Bike and walking tours are being offered by the Shockoe Alliance to introduce people to the many private and public projects proposed or underway for the area. This is a good opportunity to hear from a city body how they understand how this work is being done and for you to help them understand how you understand it. Learn more and register for a tour at https://www.shockoealliance.org/showup.

December 4: Shockoe Alliance 3rd Public Meeting

Three days before the symposium, the Shockoe Alliance will host its third public meeting, being described as a workshop. This session will present to the audience visualizations of the public input received so far on the "small area master plan" of Shockoe Bottom. Feedback will be collected during the event and for a month afterwards via online surveys. Learn more at https://www.shockoealliance.org/showup.