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Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project

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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:
 
RVANews
  • http://tinyurl.com/lvhfdc
Richmond - Richmond Times Dispatch
  • http://tinyurl.com/ktfghc
  • http://tinyurl.com/kwm8vs
 
Daily Press - Newport News
  • http://tinyurl.com/m9v5td

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

Review Summary

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

Research Summary

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 Resources: http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/

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



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: AUG. 3, 2009

MEDIA 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 cemetery.


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 press conference.


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.


###

"The 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 READ THE STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
 
 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.

Mayor Dwight Jones - (804) 646-7970 - askthemayor@richmondgov.com

Delegate Delores L. McQuinn - (804) 698-1070 - DelMcQuinn@house.virginia.gov

ORGANIZATIONS WHOSE MISSIONS ARE DRIVEN BY SIGNIFICANT HISTORIC EVENTS:

BLACK AUGUST - www.thesoulplanet.com

"The Origin of Black August: Black August originated in the California penal system 30 years ago. Black August rose to prominence in the Black Liberation Movement after freedom fighters John Jackson, William Christmas, James Mclain and Ruchell Magee were gunned down outside of Marion County Courthouse on August 7, 1970 in an attempt to liberate the highly respected and significantly influential Geoge L. Jackson (Soledad Brother/Blood in My Eye) from prison. George Jackson was assassinated one year later on August 21, 1971.

Black August is a reflection and commemoration of history, of those heroic partisans and leaders that realistically made it possible for us to survive and advance to our present level of liberation struggle." www.happilynaturalday.com

The Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project: Contact Ana Edwards at richmondburialground@comcast.net to learn more about the The Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project. 
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