RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Slaves bought and sold in what is now Shockoe Bottom; it’s a part of Richmond’s dark history. On Monday, leaders took a step forward toward making sure that history is never forgotten.
“Our history must never be buried it must always live in our hearts and our minds,” said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones at a development ceremony for the Lumpkin’s Jail site.
Jones was joined by Governor Terry McAuliffe and former Governor Bob McDonnell to announce the signing of a $1.4 million dollar contract with the architectural firm SmithGroupJJR to develop the site.
Active from the 1830s through the Civil War, the Lumpkin’s Jail was a nerve center for slave trading.
“Over 50 percent of them were sold from this place from this area, from this ground site here,” says Pamela McMullen, who attended Monday’s ceremony.
Richmonder Nickey McMullen also told 8News, “I am glad this is finally being accepted and no longer hidden history.”
The history was largely forgotten until 2005, when archaeologists uncovered evidence of the slave trading complex.
“I am hopeful that this project will be a catalyst for conversations about reconciliation,” Jones added.
The firm is expected to design a museum and exhibits for the facility.
“I do think that it is wonderful that we have at least these places memorialized so that our people can get more connected to our history,” Richmonder Iman Shabazz said.
Still, for some at the event like Shabazz and the McMullen’s, it took too long for this day to come. Others expressed concern about what the design plans will look like.
Just last month, community activists went before City Council pushing for a nine-acre park at the site. They want it to include an African burial ground.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.