Group fights to preserve Richmond slave burial ground hidden in plain sight

Posted at 11:22 PM, Mar 27, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. -- Standing on the site of one of the country's oldest burial grounds for slaves, Ana Edwards shares the historical significance of this grassy area sitting in the shadows of the Medical College of Virginia.

"The gallows was here, so people were executed here and often buried here after execution," Edwards said.

Ana Edwards and WTVR CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit.

Ana Edwards and WTVR CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit.

Edwards began working to preserve this area 15 years ago.

"I've gone gray working on this," Edwards said.

A couple of years ago more than three million dollars were spent to buy the land for the city, and the city removed asphalt and added lights and signage.

Lumpkin's Jail site.

Lumpkin's Jail site.

But, currently, there aren't any plans to do anything else.

Edwards argues now is the time to develop a comprehensive plan to create a memorial park here, along with the museum or memorial the city plans to build on the Lumpkin's Jail site.

"The burial ground gives us that opportunity to incorporate not just learning about history about also honoring the memory of the people who are buried here," Edwards said.

Supporters at Richmond City Council meeting.

Supporters at Richmond City Council meeting.

Edwards along with an attorney from The National Trust For Historic Preservation, and dozens of supporters, asked city council and Mayor Levar Stoney to support a more comprehensive plan Monday night.

"The National Trust see historic Shockoe Bottom as a national treasure," Robert Nieweg, a field attorney with National Trust for Historic Preservation said.

Clothespins hold markers honoring slaves buried at the slave burial ground.

Clothespins hold markers honoring slaves buried at the slave burial ground.

While the Mayor did not attend the meeting, a spokesperson said the mayor would be happy to meet with the stakeholders involved, he opposes the creation of a baseball stadium there, and he supports something more comprehensive than Lumpkin's and more than what is underway now.

Edwards said she just wants to make sure preserving this sacred ground doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

"I think it's very good they are taking advantage of how powerful the Lumpkin's Jail site is, we want to make sure that is considered phase one not, the only thing," Edwards said.



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