RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Mayor Levar Stoney announced Tuesday that he plans to recommend that Richmond invest between $25 million to $50 million over the next five years to memorialize the city’s “complete slave history.”
Stoney outlined plans for a memorial campus, which will include a $3.5 million slavery history museum, in Shockoe Bottom during a press conference in the neighborhood alongside other elected officials and community activists.
The neighborhood, one of the city’s oldest, was once an epicenter of domestic slave trade.
“So do not forget, Black lives built this city,” the mayor said in his remarks. “Black lives have defined much of Richmond’s history. They matter, and their story of Black lives should span our entire skyline, our entire landscape and our textbooks accordingly.”
The proposed Shockoe Area Memorial Campus would include a slave history museum and greenspace. It would encompass historic sites in the Richmond neighborhood, like the African Ancestral Burial Grounds and the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail/Devil’s Half Acre site.
“These areas have too long suffered from insufficient investment and today, we make a down payment,” Stoney said.
The mayor said the city will make a $3.5 million cash down-payment on the project. “The 3.5 million will be right away so we can start helping with the design,” he said. After that, a $25 to $50 million amendment to the Capital Improvement Plan, which must be approved by City Council, would make the project a reality.
Del. Dolores McQuinn, who is a member of the Richmond Slave Trail Commission, spoke at Tuesday’s news conference.
“We have an opportunity to leave an amazing gift to generations who are yet to come and if we don’t get it done, shame on us,” said McQuinn.
For former Richmond City Councilman Marty Jewell, who was on the council from 2005 to 2012, it has been a long time coming. “Praise the lord, hallelujah. The mayor has kept this matter on the back burner for years,” said Jewell.
City Council must first approve the $25 to $50 million budget amendment for the project to move forward. If approved, it will take five years to complete.
“We will tell the complete story,” Stoney said.