Community proposal for Shockoe Bottom unanimously endorsed!

All renderings used in the Community Proposal for Shockoe Bottom were created and contributed by George Schroeder (c) 2015. The rendering above was adapted by Ana Edwards to incorporate an image of "Gate of Ogun" by sculptor Melvin Edwards - www.melvinedwards08.com



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.


Refresher on Community Process to Develop an Alternative Plan for Shockoe Bottom

Shockoe Bottom Alternative Plan: Community Review

This is the citywide meeting to review the DRAFT alternative proposal for preservation and development of the Shockoe Bottom.

Sat. August 15th at 1:00 pm
See Event on Facebook

Timeline of the Community Process: 

In early March the Spring issue of The Virginia Defender newspaper carried the front page story and announcement of the upcoming Community Process to develop an Alternative Plan for Shockoe Bottom's historic district:
  • March: Four Community Brainstorming Sessions to gather community sentiments and suggestions
  • April-July: Craft the Draft Proposal
  • August: Present the Draft at a citywide Community Meeting
  • September: Present the Proposal to City Council
Contact information was provided so folks could contribute even if they couldn't attend the meetings: Phone - (804) 644 5834 OR Email - sacredgroundproject@gmail.com. 

We held a press conference on Mar. 16 at city hall to announce the schedule for the 4 Community Brainstorming Sessions: in the west end (18th), east end (20th), north side (21st) and south side (27th). We also announced th This was featured on several local, state, and national news outlets - television and print.

Nearly 100 people participated in the four sessions and contributed their ideas via index cards and scribe's notes of the discussions that took place. Each session was promoted individually and again folks were given contact information to engage if you missed or could not attend the meetings. Suggestions were collected through the end of April.

In May we announced that we were ready to take the next steps to translate the community suggestions into the proposal document and presentation materials. We called for volunteers to work on those actual document components, including research back-up materials, writing, keeping up with events, etc.

We formed the Working Committee from those that responded (27 people).

On May 30, we held the first Working Session to transcribe all the handwritten suggestions that came from the Community Brainstorming Sessions (on index cards, scribes notes and by email). That resulted in 24 pages of typewritten suggestions. 

Over the next 3 weeks, Rob Nieweg of the National Trust* consolidated the 24 pages into 3 pages of themes that fell into the following categories: Place (site and physical features), Programming (goals and activities), and Process (site control, future management, etc.).

We've held 5 Working Sessions since then - 2 in person and 3 by phone - to reach the point where we are today, to have an organized presentation and DRAFT proposal ready for the community on August 15 at 1pm. The goal will be to review, critique, make recommendations, and approve the proposal for finalization and presentation to city council members.  


A great deal has taken place in Richmond since we launched this process and the importance of this work is one thread in the movement swirling through the country: Black Lives Matter. A convergence of sorts has been building in Richmond with student and activist demonstrations and calls to action against the long-standing national epidemic of police killings of Black men and women -- as the following events have been taking place here: commemorative programming in 2015 for the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and beginning of Emancipation in Richmond; the height of the struggle to protect Shockoe Bottom from development destruction and elevate it via open community engagement as a Site of Conscience because of its role as the epicenter of the US domestic slave trade; 9 members of an historic church in Charleston, South Carolina were murdered by a young man who declared they had to die during the bible study session he sat in on, with them (having promoted his adherance to white supremacist organizations and bearing the symbols of the Confederacy); and Richmond prepares to host the UCI Road World Championships the main route of which travels a section of Monument Avenue and the monument to the president of the Conderacy - all before the eyes of the world via television and the internet, including journalists from 100 countries and the hundreds of thousands of visitors the city is hoping will be in Richmond from September 20 - 27. 

We are calling for a national presence on September 19 at the Jefferson Davis Monument (on Monument Avenue at Davis Avenue) at noon. More information will be posted as we get closer to the event. 


AUG. 15 FLIER: Attached is a flier promoting the Aug. 15 Community Meeting to consider the Alternative Proposal for Shockoe Bottom. Please share it with all your friends and contacts and encourage them to attend this critically important meeting. The mayor and his allies will be watching to see what kind of community support we have. If the meeting is large, we're in good shape. Please help to make it a success. Note: If you can download and print out the flier for hand-to-hand distribution, it's designed to print on an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper and then be cut in half, to save paper. Thanks!