First two news stories on Richmond's 2nd African Burial Ground

Defunct gas station and empty lot at N. 5th Street and Hospital Street, shot from inside the Hebrew Cemetery, which neighbors the site of The Grave Yard.   Photos by Brian Palmer.

The Departed and Dismissed of Richmond

August 5, 2019 - Samantha Willis

This is the first of a two-part series on the fate of the Grave Yard for Free People of Color and Slaves in Richmond, Virginia 

It is dark and noisy beneath the towering pillars holding Interstate 64 over what looks like wasted space near 5th and Hospital Streets in Richmond, Virginia.

Patches of overgrown grass sprout between cracks in the crumbling asphalt beneath the highway overpass; graffiti the color of old blood marks some of its supports. Rain-washed, sun-faded litter is everywhere. Lenora McQueen first saw the space in 2017 while seeking the final resting place of her fourth great grandmother, Kitty Cary—a woman who was born, lived and died enslaved. McQueen didn't know what she'd find, but she didn't expect what she did. 

She saw an old gas station on the site of what was once the Grave Yard for Free People of Color and Slaves, established in the early 19th century. "I saw a highway running over it; I thought my GPS had gone haywire." McQueen remembers thinking as she drove past, "I hope this isn't it." (Read full story here.)

Passenger Rail Project Slated To Run Through Richmond African American Graveyard

July 25, 2019 -- Jordy Yager

More than 20 people are gathered at the foot of a large hill, near Gilpin Court, on the other side of the historically white Shockoe Hill Cemetery.

Emily Stock, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s (DRPT) manager of rail planning, organized the group to talk about a high-speed rail project called “DC2RVA” that it wants to construct here.

“The DC2RVA project started in 2014,” says Stock to the group. “And we met many of you all through the process.”

Most of the academics, archaeologists, preservationists, museum directors, advocates and others in the group are here because for more than a year family historian Lenora McQueen has meticulously researched this place, emailing the group regular updates as she has helped uncover its hidden past.

In 2017, McQueen came to Charlottesville from her home in Texas to speak at a slavery symposium at the University of Virginia. While in Virginia, she took a trip to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, where she learned that her fourth great grandmother was buried in the city around 1857. But she did not recognize the graveyard, so she looked at a map, punched the location into her GPS and set out to find it.[Read full article]

Click here for a history of the 2nd African Burial Ground (aka "Free Burying Ground for Free People of Color and Slaves")