Please read this article and sign the petition about the parking of cars on Richmond’s African Burial Ground by VCU. This is a dramatic example of institutionalized white privilege and racism. Imagine the public outcry if VCU built a parking lot on Hollywood Cemetery. Parking on sacred ground is not acceptable, and it has only gone on for so long due to historical and current white supremacy and racism which infect most institutions and capitalist ventures. The Wingnut Anarchist Collective stands in solidarity with everyone fighting to end this disrespectful and oppressive treatment of a historical and spiritual site.
End VCU/MCV Parking on Richmond’s African Burial Ground
by: Kenneth Yates x370724
A place called Shockoe Bottom in Richmond, Virginia was once the center of the African slave trade in North America. However if you were to visit this area you would never know it. Beneath the night clubs, condominiums, office buildings, and streets lies a history grossly repressed by capitalist appetites for commercial development.
One hidden piece of history in particular lies beneath a parking lot publicly owned and utilized by the Virginia Commonwealth University & Medical College of Virginia staff and students.
|Photo by: Kenneth Yates|
In 1992 local historian and author Elizabeth Cann Kambourian, while researching for a book about a local slave rebellion leader named Gabriel, discovered something. Around 1800, inspired by the Haitian Revolution which was in full swing at the time, Gabriel plotted one of the most organized slave revolts in United States history. The plan was for hundreds of enslaved Africans, free Blacks and a few whites to to enter the city of Richmond, take the governor hostage and demand the abolition of slavery in Virginia. The revolt, however, was crushed after an intense 100 year storm flooded the area, making it impossible for Gabriel and his army to enter the city.
With information given by one of Gabriel’s collaborators, the then Richmond Governor James Monroe formed a militia to hunt down Gabriel and his co-conspirators. Gabriel was eventually captured, tried and, on Oct. 10, 1800, executed at the town gallows, located in what was then called the Burial Ground for Negroes. At least 25 of his comrades met the same fate, either at the same site or in surrounding areas.
The burial ground was retired sometime around 1810, after hundreds, perhaps thousands of enslaved Africans had been buried there. The exact number is unknown. Before long the burial ground itself fell into obscurity, eventually buried beneath 10-20 feet of filler as the land took on many other uses over the years.
Kambourian discovered an old Richmond City map placing the African Burial Ground just north of 15th & Broad Street. That area is now partially covered by Interstate 95, with the remaining portion of the Burial Ground buried beneath a parking lot utilized by both VCU & MCV staff and students. The exact boundaries are yet to be determined.
The Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality have been fighting to reclaim this sacred ground from its present desecration. VCU & the City of Richmond have been aware of the history surrounding the Burial Ground since its discovery in 1992, however they have to this day done nothing to preserve and respect the dead residing there.
The Defenders have initiated an on-line letter writing campaign directed at VCU President Michael Rao, Richmond City Mayor Dwight C. Jones, & Virginia Governor Bob McDonell, demanding that they “End VCU / MCV Parking on Richmond’s African Burial Ground.”
Please visit [ http://tinyurl.com/275kzuj ] and sign or edit the following letter. If you are sending the e-mail on behalf of an organization, please also include your position in the group.
Dear Dr. Rao,
I urge you to immediately close the VCU-owned parking lot that covers Richmond’s African Burial Ground, the city’s oldest municipal cemetery for Black people.
It is now universally accepted that all or part of this historic site lies under the parking lot located at 15th and East Broad streets. It is unacceptable that Virginia Commonwealth University, a publicly funded state institution, continues to encourage commuters to park their cars on this sacred ground.
As Virginia prepares to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War and the beginning of the end of slavery, I urge you to do the right thing and remove this continuing stain on the reputation of all Virginians.