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.