RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– Mark Warner is offering financial support to preserve the Slave Trail in Shockoe Bottom. The Virginia Senator made a statement on Tuesday as he toured the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail to commemorate Black History Month.
Virginia’s dark history of slavery is on display in Downtown Richmond. Shockoe Bottom was once the epicenter of the domestic slave trade, second only to New Orleans.
“This is part of the city and the Commonwealth’s history and it’s something we should all learn about,” said Senator Warner.
Warner took the time to learn himself Tuesday morning. He along with members of the Virginia’s Black Legislative Caucus took a guided-tour of the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail; often referred to as the ‘Devil’s Half Acre’. The jail was presided by Robert Lumpkin and was a place where thousands of Black men and women were held in horrific conditions and tortured before being sold.
“One thing about our history is that we need to tell the good, the bad and the ugly,” Senator Warner said. “There’s good, but there’s also bad and ugly.”
The Lumpkin’s Jail and Historical Burial Grounds are part of the city’s Slave Trail, which local leaders and advocates are working to preserve.
“We believe that it’s long overdue and we recognize that it was Black people who built this city,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney who walked the area with Senator Warner on Tuesday.
Last summer, Mayor Stoney recommended that Richmond invest between $25 million to $50 million over the next five years to memorialize the city’s “complete slave history.” Mayor Stoney outlined plans for a memorial campus and slavery museum in Shockoe Bottom.
Governor Ralph Northam proposed nine million dollars in the budget for the project in December.
“We already have the help of the Commonwealth of Virginia and we’re going to need other dollars,” Mayor Stoney told 8News.
Those ‘other’ dollars could be federal funds. Senator Warner committed on Tuesday to help secure financial support for the project.
“Whatever I can do in this position as Senator to help, in terms of securing federal funds to make sure that this 2.5 mile Slave Trail becomes a true reality please count me in,” vowed Senator Warner.
When reporters asked Mayor Stoney if he plans to take Senator Warner up on his offer, Stoney laughed loudly and said, “if you could only see the smile on my face.”
Senator Warner introduced legislation, which was ultimately signed into law in 2018, to establish the “400 Years of African-American History Commission” to acknowledge and learn from the Virginia’s history of slavery.