RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Dozens of community members have contributed to designs for a memorial park dedicated to the history of slavery in the Shockoe Bottom area of Richmond.
“How would you like to memorialize this site?” Joseph Krupczynski from the Center for Design Engagement, which participated in the design, asked. “How do we deal with the difficult history of that site? And what might be the best ways to memorialize it?”
Charleen Baylor, a resident in the area expressed her interest in the collective design becoming a reality.
“Everybody has an opinion. The good thing is that once the opinions are all amalgamated that something more finite will come out of it,” she said.
A team of designers from the University of Massachusetts created images based on what Richmonders want for an area once known as the second largest slave trading place in the United States.
“There is the African burial ground, and that really is a sacred place … a contemplative space,” Krupczynski said. “Then you have the Lumpkins Jail and the Seaboard Building.”
Residents expressed a desire to make the area a place for teaching, learning, business development and community gatherings.
“A place to train the next generation of Richmonders who are interested in historic preservation, who are interested in history and who are interested in craft,” Krupczynski said.
“The story has not been effectively told and shared and people need to know about it and we need to take advantage of the opportunity now, before something is done with the space … and we won’t be able to do it in the future.” — Charleen Baylor, Shockoe Bottom resident
Oddly enough, not many citizens expressed concerns about safety in the area, despite many reports of crime in the area.
“When someone did mention it, it was to say that if there was some kind of meaningful economic development in the area, maybe it will become a safer place,” Krupczynski said.
Baylor also expressed a sense of urgency about using the space now before other plans can be made for the area.
She said, “The story has not been effectively told and shared and people need to know about it and we need to take advantage of the opportunity now, before something is done with the space … and we won’t be able to do it in the future.”