Right There Once: A Sound History For The Trail of Enslaved People

March 1, 2018

For Public Release:                                                                                       

The public is invited to experience A Sound History For The Trail of Enslaved People, a newly premiered archive of personal stories, reflections, and historical perspectives intended to enrich the interpretation of this significant historical site in Richmond, VA. Four years in the making by Richmond-based sound artist Vaughn Garland, the archive is available as a sound walk. Using mobile technology, visitors and residents can access resources—including the compelling voices of sixteen community activists, historians, and experts—to learn more about the site and the enslaved people who lived, worked, and suffered here, and whose lives and legacy have had indelible impact on the city, region, and nation.

The self-guided sound walk follows a three-mile pathway along the banks of the James River in Richmond. Through internet-based GPS and Google mapping technology, visitors with smart phones and tablets can access a guided audio tour that is responsive to physical location on the trail. 

The archive is also fully accessible from any location through any web-connected device.

In addition to audio archives, A Sound History For The Trail of Enslaved People includes portraits and images by Richmond photographer Michael Lease.



Imam Ammar Amonette, Islamic Center of Virginia

Dr. Edward L. Ayers, Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities and President Emeritus University of Richmond

O. Janine Bell, President and Artistic Director of Elegba Folklore Society

Rev. Benjamin Campbell, Richmond Hill

Rev. Dr. Paige Lanier Chargois, Consultant, Formerly of Hope in the Cities and Initiatives of Change 

Christy Coleman, Chief Executive Officer, The American Civil War Museum

Rob Corcoran, Strategic Advisor at Initiatives of Change, founder of Hope in the Cities, and author of Trustbuilding: An Honest Conversation on Race, Reconciliation, and Responsibility.

Ana Edwards, Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project of The Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality

Free Folasade Egunfemi, Founder, Untold RVA

Gregg Kimball, Director of Public Services and Outreach at the Library of Virginia

Dr. Maurie McInnis, Vice President and Provost, The University of Texas at Austin

Chief Terry Price and Annette Price, Wolfe Creek Cherokee Museum

Rev. Sylvester Tee Turner, Director of Reconciliation Programs for Hope in the Cities and Commissioner of the Slave Trail Commission

S. Waite Rawls III, President, The American Civil War Museum Foundation

Jennifer Hurst Wender, Director of Museum Operations and Education, Preservation Virginia.

Ralph White, Former Manager, James River Park System

Contact Dr. Vaughn Garland for additional Information.  Garlandvw@gmail.com, 804-869-0065


Feb. 21 Press Conference

Supporters of the community-generated proposal fro a nine-acre Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park held a press conference at 5:00 pm Wednesday, Feb. 21, at the southwest corner of E. Broad & 17th streets in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom. Channel 8 showed up, along with an independent TV station from Harrisonburg, The Virginia Defender and, as always, our good friend David Martin with Martin Images, who has already posted the entire press conference here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZOE7uCtRZM&feature=share

Speakers included:

ELLEN CHAPMAN - Cofounder, RVA Archaeology

PHIL WILAYTO standing in for ANA EDWARDS - Chair, Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation
Project of the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality

MARTY JEWELL - Former Member, Richmond City Council

STATEMENT FROM LYNETTA THOMPSON - Immediate Past President, Richmond Branch NAACP - Read by FLORENCE BREEDLOVE (RVA Archaeology)

The purpose of the press conference was to state our support for the findings of the Rose Center for Public Leadership and to emphasize that any physical memorialization of Shockoe Bottom’s role in the trade in enslaved Africans must include the two blocks east of the CSX railroad tracks between East Broad, East Grace and 17th streets, where several slave jails, trader offices and supporting businesses once operated.

In a quote from the original press release, “As the Rose Center emphasized, the story of the slave trade in Shockoe Bottom is too big and too important to be wedged between I-95 and the railroad tracks,” said Sacred Ground Chair Ana Edwards. “Telling the full extent of that trade needs a larger footprint. We will be demonstrating that position at Saturday’s press conference.

“In addition, we want to emphasize again that, because of the tremendous suffering, exploitation and resistance experienced by Africans and people of African descent in Shockoe Bottom, today’s descendant community must have the primary voice in any decisions about how to properly memorialize this historic site.”

Links to coverage: 

Michael Paul Williams, Richmond Times Dispatch, Feb. 12, 2018

Church Hill Peoples News, Feb. 14, 2018

The Rose Center for Public Leadership, jointly operated by the National League of Cities (NLC) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) will be visiting Richmond Feb 5-8, 2018 to advise the city on synthesizing and implementing a shared vision for Shockoe Bottom. The City of Richmond seeks to leverage existing investments in the area and honor its history to create a new destination district that supports its goals for economic development, the preservation of its cultural and historic heritage, and environmental sustainability.

This is part of the yearlong Rose Fellowship which Mayor Levar Stoney was selected for in the fall of 2017. More about the fellowship and the Mayor’s statement can be found online here.

Representatives of the Rose Center will be making a public presentation with preliminary findings and recommendations from 9-11 a.m. EST on Thursday, February 8 at Main Street Station, 1500 E. Main St., on the second floor. The public is invited to attend and there is limited seating on a first come first serve basis.