Thank you to everyone who came out on a muggy, buggy evening to the tall grasses of Richmond's African Burial Ground for the 16th Annual Gabriel Forum and African Burial Ground Commemoration.
We borrowed from something UntoldRVA did in 2015 and invited people to add the names of ancestors on paper attached to strings around the boulders on site as we prepared to start the program.
Libation and permission to proceed
Elder Queen Nzinga Taylor
Ana Edwards gave a bit of Gabriel's and the site's history, then shared her experience in Barbados at the Aug. 1st Emancipation Day commemoration of their "Gabriel," an enslaved man named Bussa, at the site of his monument. In 1816 he led a rebellion involving plantations across the island; it was not successful in that moment but it led to abolition in 1834.
Reading of the Open Letter to Mayor Levar Stoney
Lynetta Thompson, a woman named Cindy who came from Chesterfield County, and Lynetta's grandson, Reggie, each read a section of the Open Letter to the Mayor.
Update on Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park
We finished with an update on the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park, the Economic Impact and Benefits Study, and called attention to at least six other planning processes going on right now that involve development, zoning, and strategic planning for city and Shockoe Bottom.
Wrap Up & Comments
We talked about the importance of community and family participation in transmitting history. And, get it right. Education of each generation is a task we should take on with joy.
We were asked: What are you doing for the 400th anniversary of the 2019? The date the first Africans disembarked at Point Comfort (Fort Monroe), the beginnings of slavery in Virginia? We mentioned American Evolution 2019 and HamptonVa 2019 Commemorative Commission, that many local organizations and schools are already working on their events, and that we will begin planning our 2019 events early in the new year.
Handouts: copies of The Virginia Defender and a handout with links to study and planning project websites and documents.
Media present: Sandra Sellers, photographer with the Richmond Free Press, David Martin, David Martin Productions videographer, and Phil Wilayto, editor of The Virginia Defender.
This is what was on the handout:
ALL of this is underway, right now:
- SmithGroupJJR, City of Richmond and Slave Trail Commission will announce the proposed design of the Devil's Half Acre/Lumpkin's Jail site, soon.
- SmithGroupJJR project website: lumpkinsjail.org
- Master Plan: http://www.richmond300.com/marketingMasterPlan/goals-process
- Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltCOJ_8tB8k&feature=youtu.be
- Vision Plan: http://www.richmondregional.org/TPO/Reports_and_Documents/Greater_RVA_Transit_Vision_Plan-Public-Draft.pdf
- Get connected: ridegrtc.com/brt/keep-me-informed
- Description and documents: DC2RVArail.com
Get connected to these planning activities because decisions will be made whether you are there or not. But if you're there, the decisions might be different. These planning processes intersect with issues of housing, transportation, history and cultural preservation, jobs, education, schools, criminal justice, neighborhood and development zoning LAWS!!
Get on the mailing lists. Go to a meeting. Be AWARE of HOW OTHER PEOPLE are TALKING ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBORHOODS. LEARN what you can do to make those conversations sustain your neighborhood communities rather than “decentralize” them. Make them explain themselves. Contribute your thoughts.