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VCU to Give Up Part of Lot for Slave Memorial

September 4, 2008

Virginia Commonwealth University will give up part of a parking lot along Interstate 95 in Richmond so a burial ground for slaves and free blacks can be memorialized. The university’s decision to forgo use of a 50-foot-wide swath between East Broad and East Marshall streets was announced yesterday by VCU, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the Richmond Slave Trail Commission.

“I really, really appreciate it,” said City Councilwoman Delores L. McQuinn, chairwoman of the Slave Trail Commission. “This is something that we have been working on. The fact that they’re going to give a portion of it to us to establish the memorial, I think, is commendable.”

VCU had planned to allow a memorial to the Richmond Burial Ground for Negroes, but it was unclear until yesterday’s joint statement exactly how much land would be available.

A state archaeologist concluded in a report last month that most of the burial ground was covered by I-95 but that a portion extended about 50 feet to the east, under the parking lot.

A group that includes officials from the city, state and VCU agreed with the findings, and VCU agreed to make the area available for a memorial.

The section is worth about $350,000 and includes 59 parking spaces that would produce about $25,000 in revenue annually, officials said.

VCU bought the 400-space lot near its medical campus lot recently and had planned to repave it this summer until about a dozen residents protested the project as a further desecration of a sacred site.

The university put the work on hold pending a state review of historic maps and other records.

“We have been able to compile sufficiently conclusive evidence of the location of the historic Richmond Burial Ground for Negroes. We now have a commitment and a fair and reasonable approach that will help the community come together and do what is right by those people who lie nearby,” Department of Historic Resources Director Kathleen Kilpatrick said in yesterday’s statement.

The Slave Trail Commission plans to seek public input this fall on how the site should be memorialized. McQuinn said the process could include three meetings, beginning next month and wrapping up in mid-November.

Contact Will Jones at (804) 649-6911 or wjones@timesdispatch.com.

ILLUSTRATION: MAP

MEMO: BREAKING NEWS 8/28/08 1:54 PM on inRich.com

Originally published by JONES; Times-Dispatch Staff Writer.

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