8/15/15

Invitation: Community Meeting to Review an Alternative Proposal

YOU ARE INVITED to a Community Meeting to consider an Alternative Proposal for Richmond's Shockoe Bottom. The meeting was hosted by the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project of the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church.

The Alternative Proposal is being developed through a community-based process with assistance from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the country's most prominent preservation organization. See www.savingplaces.org.

The main feature of the proposal is the creation of a Memorial Park to examine and commemorate Richmond's central role in the U.S. domestic slave trade. In the decades before the Civil War, Shockoe Bottom was the hub of that trade. It is estimated that the majority of Black people in the country today could trace some ancestry to this small area.

The park would include the present sites of the African Burial Ground and Lumpkin's Jail Archaeology Site, plus a few blocks to the east of the CSX railroad tracks, where slave jails, slave-trader offices and supporting service businesses were located. The proposal also allows for economic development outside the park, compatible with the historic nature of the area.

The Alternative Proposal was voted for unanimously at the Aug. 15 community meeting, it will be shared with Mayor Dwight Jones and members of Richmond City Council and then formally introduced to council at its next scheduled meeting, on Sept. 14!

More than 100 people attended four Community Brainstorming Sessions held in March to gather suggestions for what should be done with Shockoe Bottom. The National Trust then consolidated those suggestions into a three-page summary, which provided the basis for the proposal, now being developed by a working group drawn from community members who attended the brainstorming sessions. The proposal will be vetted by professionals from the fields of tourism development, economics, preservation and zoning before it is finalized for presentation to the Aug. 15 meeting.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend the Aug. 15 meeting. Primary consideration will be given to views raised by members of the Black community.

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