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.