It’s now been a full year since the Community Proposal for a nine-acre Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park was unanimously adopted at an open citywide meeting hosted by the Defenders’ Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project. SInce then, another open community meeting has approved refinements to the proposal suggested by the Center for Design Engagement at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. And endorsements for the proposal have come in from across the country.
For his part, Mayor Dwight Jones has ignored this community-generated proposal, going right ahead with his own plan to memorialize just one of the nearly 100 Shockoe Bottom sites that made Richmond the epicenter of the U.S. domestic slave trade. That plan ignores the African Burial Ground and opens the rest of Shockoe Bottom to unfettered commercial use by developers - which has already begun!
Come January, there will be a new mayor and new members of City Council. Along with all the other pressing issues facing Richmond, we need to make sure that Shockoe Bottom is a central issue this election season.
On Monday, Sept. 12, Richmond Branch NAACP President Lynetta Thompson will deliver a statement promoting the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park during the public comment section of the City Council meeting. Please join the NAACP, the Defenders and other supporters of the community plan.
And please make plans to attend the many upcoming electoral forums to ask this question of all the candidates: “With a yes or no answer, do you support the Community Proposal for a nine-acre Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park?”
A broad community struggle succeeded in reclaiming Richmond’s African Burial Ground. Another, even broader one stopped the mayor’s plan to put a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom. The community can make the proposal for a Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park a reality - IF we stay involved.
Some scheduled forums are:
- Mon., Sept. 12 - Mayoral candidates at the Kiwanis Club
- Fri., Sept. 23 - Richmond Branch NAACP Candidates Forum - Third Street Bethel AME Church (614 3rd Street, Richmond VA)
- Sept., 29 - Mayorathon 2016 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Sponsored by Richmond Magazine and five nonprofit groups.