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Story Underscores Need to Preserve Tragic History

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Whether intentional or not, Chris Dovi's article "Look Away, Look Away" (Cover Story, May 7), conveys the fragility of the fabric of community generally. In analyzing specifics, the urgency with which a concerted effort to preserve the awful history of slavery in Richmond must proceed becomes obvious.

Even under the best of conditions, the ever-so-faint echoes of living memory within a family cease to resonate after five generations. In reaching further than that, we depend only on the written record. Thus, the enormity of the tragedy described by Richmond City Councilwoman Delores McQuinn, in being deprived of this inheritance of oral history, becomes clear. We must remain conscious of the march of time and the fragility of human existence.

Unlike some other situations in which history is intentionally erased, our counterparts on the other end of the trail have no incentive to preserve their role in this episode. While the Puritans in Connecticut conveniently forget that, after securing religious liberty for themselves, they promptly denied it to everyone else (thereby forcing mass migrations, sometimes including up to one-fourth the population of entire communities), those who settled the Western Reserve (now northern Ohio) were careful to record those events. It's also a pretty safe bet that the communities whose legacy include being on the receiving end of Richmond's slave trade have not taken measures to preserve their role in that decades-long shame.

While the enormity of acknowledging, preserving and studying Richmond's role in the enabling and spreading of slavery (and thereby learning from the same) will most likely require an entire museum devoted exclusively to this discipline, already existing resources aren't being optimally utilized. While representatives of several museums and other agencies were interviewed for the article, all of them seem to be working in a vacuum, rather than coordinating their efforts. (It's also interesting that while the Museum of the Confederacy was mentioned, no one from that facility was quoted.)

A unified approach, incorporating the best of the unique resources brought by each of the parties concerned, ensures the greatest possibility for success. Let's hope that inter-agency rivalry doesn't negate such a possibility.

Kenneth C. Decker
Richmond



I wanted to commend Chris Dovi on his article. It was excellent! I am a huge Civil War buff and have been to most historical sites in the surrounding area. I know a lot about slavery here and the history behind it all, but was educated further with this story. I just wanted to thank you for bringing to light what truly is a dark, deep and almost forgotten subject. I am sure you have opened the eyes of many more readers and truly hope it will help further the fight to bring a slavery museum downtown.

Todd Tuting
Far West End



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