Thursday, November 10, 2016
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Lumpkins Slave Jrail

A public event at the site of Richmond’s former slave market on October 10 marked an important milestone in what Mayor Dwight Jones called “a true honoring of our complete history.” Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, sat side by side with his Republican predecessor, Bob McDonnell, as city officials announced the hiring of Smith-GroupJJR, to develop a design for a memorial and heritage site. The firm was co-designer of the recently-opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Lonnie G. Bunch III, who directs the museum, will act as “scholarly advisor” to the Lumpkin’s Jail site development. 

Mayor Jones highlighted the importance of confronting the past and said that Richmonders need to be “comfortable with making each other uncomfortable.” It is only through telling the full history, he said, that we can “fully address the complexities of the race issues that remain so deeply rooted today…All of us have to live with the legacy of slavery, but we don’t have to be enslaved to the consequences of bitterness.” 

Lumpkins Slave JailRepresentatives of several African countries from where enslaved people were brought to the Americas were present at the ceremony.  

In 1993, Hope in the Cities and its partners led hundreds of Richmonders of all backgrounds, as well as community leaders from across the country and from overseas, in the city’s first walk through its racial history. Members of Hope in the Cities have served on Richmond’s Slave Trail Commission since its inception and have helped to bring national and international recognition to previously unknown sites.  

During his term of office as governor, Bob McDonnell allocated $11 million in state funding for the Lumpkin’s Jail project. The City of Richmond contributed an additional $8 million. McDonnell told the crowd of several hundred people at the October ceremony that bricks and mortar alone cannot heal the racial divide. “What really matters is what is in the human heart. What are you going to do to make your city, your state and your nation a better place? How are you going to follow the commands of God to make this a better place and to show love for other people?”