SCROLL DOWN TO READ MEDIA RELEASE FOR AUG.
3 VIGIL AND PRESS CONFERENCE TO STOP THE REPAVING OF "THE BURIAL GROUND FOR NEGROES"
Tues., Sep. 1 - 6:30 pm - Jefferson Davis Civic Association and Richmond Crusade for Voters host meeting on Downtown
Development. Defenders invited to speak on alternative plan. Be there to lend your support. Forum with Echo
Harbour Developers 6:30 PM-8:00 PM at Southside Community Service Center, Southside Plaza, 4100 Hull Street Road, Richmond,
Virginia 23224 - For more information please contact President Carrie Cox @ 743-1636.
Petition to Reclaim our Richmond's Oldest Municipal Burial Site
for Free and Enslaved Black People:
click here to download file
News coverage of this issue:
Richmond - Richmond Times Dispatch
Daily Press - Newport News
Institute for Historical Biology (IHB) Review of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR)
Validation and Assessment Report on the Burial Ground for Negroes, Richmond, Virginia by C. M. Stephenson, 25 June 2008.
Prepared by Michael L. Blakey, Ph.D, Director, Institute
for Historical Biology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg,
Virginia, 20 September 2008
The Institute for Historical Biology of the College of William and Mary concurs that the Validation and Assessment
report of the Virginia DHR provides documentation of the presence of the historic Burial Ground for Negroes (circa 1750-1816)
on land currently owned by the Virginia Commonwealth University. The spatial extent of VCU’s encroachment of the cemetery
was not shown, however, despite contrary conclusions of the report. Appropriate archaeological test excavations
are recommended as necessary to demonstrate the area of a VCU parking lot that is built over the Burial Ground.
(emphasis added by A. Edwards)
About the Institute for Historical Biology: http://www.wm.edu/as/anthropology/research/ihb/index.php
click here to download the IHB report
Burial Ground for Negroes, Richmond, Virginia: Validation and Assessment
Prepared by C. M. Stevenson, Ph.D., for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Ricmond,
Virginia, 25 June 2008
DHR has gathered and assessed pertinent evidence on the location and
probable condition of the former Richmond free black and slave burial ground known as the Burial
Ground for Negroes (ca. 1750-1816). It is our conclusion that the preponderance
of evidence from available sources indicates that the Burial Ground and
gallows are located under the north and south bound lanes of Interstate 95. Because no formal boundaries were recorded, or
verbally described for the Burial Ground, the distribution limit for graves
cannot be determined accurately. However, if the area enclosed by the historic verbal map marking approximates the actual
size of the Burial Ground, then a very small portion of the Burial
Ground may intrude upon the VCU parking lot. It is also the conclusion of
the report, that the area likely to contain the Burial Ground has not been damaged by the recent construction of I-95 which deposited between 7-10 feet of fill on an area already
covered with 8-10 feet of fill deposited since the middle 19th century. However, unknown 19th century disturbance could have
occurred. (emphasis added by A. Edwards)
About the Virginia Department of Historic
click here to download the DHR report
MEDIA RELEASE from the
Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality
PO Box 23202, Richmond, VA 23223 l Ph: 804.644.5834 l Fax: 804.332.5225
E-mail: DefendersFJE@hotmail.com l Web site: www.DefendersFJE.org
IMMEDIATE RELEASE: AUG. 3, 2009
CONTACTS: ANA EDWARDS or PHIL WILAYTO – 804.644.5834 or 804.247.3731
Vigil & Press Conference to demand that VCU ...
STOP THE REPAVING OF RICHMOND'S 'BURIAL GROUND FOR NEGROES'
Representatives of civil rights, labor, community and student organizations will hold a press conference at
9 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 4, to demand that Virginia Commonwealth University immediately stop the repaving of the university-owned
parking lot that covers Richmond “Burial Ground for Negroes,” the city's oldest and long-abandoned public Black
The press conference will take place at the Burial Ground and parking lot, located immediately north of East
Broad Street between the entrance to I-95 and the CSX railroad tracks.
The press conference will be preceded by a vigil at the “Gabriel Execution” state highway marker
on the East Broad Street sidewalk overlooking the Burial Ground. The cemetery was the site of the City Gallows, where the
great slave rebellion leader Gabriel was executed on Oct. 10, 1800.
“Once again, the community is called to save this venerable
site from a calculated assault specifically intended to minimize its significance,” said Ana Edwards, Chair of the Sacred
Ground Historical Reclamation Project of the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, who will be participating in the
press conference. “This Burial Ground holds irreplaceable representatives of our history - men, women and children whose
histories should be freed, not tamped down yet again.”
“If VCU moves forward with its plan and we
cannot stop them, we will seek restitution, reparations and possibly initiate a direct action campaign to express our outrage,”
said King Salim Khalfani, Executive Director of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, who also will be participating in the
Other scheduled speakers include Breanne Armbrust, Founder and Director of Richmond Jobs with
Justice; J'nelle Eden, President of the VCU College Chapter of the NAACP; Charity Pierce and Velma Hairston, President and
Vice President of the VCU student organization Afrikana; and community activist Kenneth Yates.
VCU has publicly acknowledged the existence of the Burial Ground, the final resting place of
perhaps thousands of enslaved Africans as well as poor whites. In response to community demands, it has set aside a 50 x 110-foot
sliver of the lot to be used as a memorial. That section is not being repaved.
However, the actual dimensions of the Burial Ground, which from sometime in the 1700s until
shortly after Gabriel's execution was Richmond's only public cemetery for Black people, have never been scientifically determined.
Instead, VCU refers to a study conducted last year by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources in which state researchers,
using an old city map of the area, simply drew a rectangle around the words “Burial Ground for Negroes” and stated
that those arbitrarily drawn lines represent the boundaries of the cemetery.
This “methodology” was subsequently exposed as wholly
inadequate in a review of the DHR study conducted by Dr. Michael L. Blakey, Director
of the Institute for Biological History at the College of William and Mary. Dr. Blakey, the former head of the Department
of Anthropology at Howard University, was the scientific director of the project that reclaimed and memorialized the African
Burial Ground in New York City.
300-year struggle for the African Burial Ground, from a strictly scientific standpoint, constitutes a continuing assertion
of human identity against those who would belittle or belie that status for reasons of economic expediency." - Dr. Michael L. Blakey, from The New York African Burial Ground Project: An Examination of Enslaved Lives,
a Construction of Ancestral Ties, presented August 19, 1997 to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights Sub-Committee
on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.
CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE SACRED GROUND PROJECT WEBSITE
What is Shockoe Bottom now? It is a singular site of far-reaching historical importance for
the Black Community and for all who would come to Richmond to experience history, to absorb it, to understand it. And because
of where they will be able to place their feet, and what they will see from this vantage point, they will remember and they
will share it. And others will come.