At Richmond Speaks Forum, a Call to Expand Slave Trade Commemoration

Efforts should go beyond Lumpkin's Jail, speakers say.

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A series of talks on how to memorialize Lumpkin's Jail came to an end Thursday night, with participants voicing concerns about including all viewpoints and more than one historic site.

Roughly 70 participants gathered at the University of Richmond to vote on six top priorities recommended in a draft report from the forum series.

But how construction would take shape at Lumpkin's is unclear. Many of the report's recommendations are general items that visitors would expect of a historic site -- such as being educational and economically sustainable.

The key finding is the desire for any memorial commemorating Lumpkin's to include the African Burial Ground and other sites in Shockoe Bottom, central to the slave trade. The report also indicates that respondents want areas that were significant to the history of slavery protected from inappropriate commercial development.

The viewpoint is consistently echoed by the Defenders of Freedom Justice and Equality, a group that advocates telling a story that goes beyond Lumpkin's with a 9-acre memorial park. The plan spans from the African Burial Ground and two blocks east of the CSX railroad tracks, between East Broad and East Grace streets to North 17th Street.

Earlier Thursday, Ana Edwards held a press conference at the Lumpkin's Jail site to advocate for an inclusive memorial plan. Edwards also attended the final Richmond Speaks Forum.

She said that while discussions center on a broad plan that goes beyond a museum, she didn't see any great efforts by the city to make sure it happens before the groundbreaking scheduled for 2016.

“At this point there is no indication that they have a mechanism for securing an expansive area,” she said.

Consultants plan to present a final report from Richmond Speaks to the General Assembly next month.

As far as funding for construction of a memorial site at Lumpkin’s Jail, the city has committed $8 million and the state has committed $5 million. The state also has set aside $5 million for the construction of a slavery museum.

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