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Report: Slavery Museum in Richmond Would Generate Millions

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Mallory Noe-Payne
/
RADIOIQ

 

In his most recent budget proposal, Governor Ralph Northam slated millions in new funding to help better tell the story of black Virginians, including support for a slavery heritage site in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom. A recent report found that investment could pay off.  

 

 

 

In the middle of downtown Richmond, right next to the soaring overpass of Interstate 95, is history hidden in plain sight. 

 

“So we’re standing on the African burial ground, this place has been a very sacred space to a number of the descendent community for decades,” describes Preservation Virginia’s Elizabeth Kostelny.

 

For years the city, in conjunction with community and historical groups, has considering building a memorial park and slavery museum right here. 

 

According to a recent economic analysis put out by Preservation Virginia, that investment could generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue each year. Revenue that, with intention, could benefit black-owned businesses. 

 

“I think it’s also a way to acknowledge the legacies of this place, Shockoe Bottom,” says Kostelny. “It is a place of human trafficking, and the legacies of Jim Crow era that continued on. Those haven’t left Richmond and this is a way to resolve it.” 

 

Northam’s proposed one-million dollars in funding is a fraction of what would be needed to get the project up and running. 

 

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

 

Mallory Noe-Payne is Radio IQ's Richmond reporter and bureau chief. She's covered policy and politics from the state capital since 2016. She was a 2020-2021 recipient of the Fulbright Young Journalist Award. She spent a year in Munich, Germany researching memory, justice, and how a society can collectively confront its sins. Her Virginia-based coverage of home healthcare workers, voting rights, and Richmond’s Slave Trail have won national news awards.