RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A state historical marker for the Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground in Richmond was unveiled Sunday afternoon to highlight the history of the large cemetery created in 1816 for the city’s free people of color and the enslaved.

The marker’s unveiling ceremony took place starting at 2:30 p.m. on June 12 on the grounds of the now-invisible cemetery, located at 1305 North Fifth Street. Richmond city leaders, including Mayor Levar Stoney and Police Chief Gerald Smith, as well as scholars and members of the cemetery’s descendant community were among those in attendance.

Mayor Stoney spoke at the event about the progress the city has made with regards to matters of racial justice compared to decades ago. “People show the humanity that should have been shown to people of color for generations. And it’s my hope that let this not be the end, but be the beginning of more intentional work that needs to be done in the great city of Richmond,” Stoney said.

The boundary of the Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground in downtown Richmond. Credit: Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground / Facebook

According The Cultural Landscape Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to educate the public about the histories of the nation’s cultural landscapes, the Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground is possibly the largest cemetery for free and enslaved people of color in the United States, with more than 22,000 individuals interred at the location during its peak in the 1800s.

The historical marker dedication was sponsored by the Friends of Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground, the City of Richmond, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Preservation Virginia and the Valentine Museum. For more information about the cemetery, visit its Facebook page, or read more about its history on The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s website.