No Stadium in Shockoe Bottom! Defend Richmond's African History!
An Urgent Appeal to all people of good will to help prevent plans to put a baseball stadium in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom, one of the most important historical sites for people of African descent in all of North America.
Richmond is now at a crossroads: Does it offer up its most historic neighborhood to profit-hungry developers only interested in making a quick buck, or do we develop it as a national historic district that tells all its many stories – American Indian, the founding of the city of Richmond, Quaker, Mason, Jewish and, most importantly, the fact that it was from here that hundreds of thousands of Africans and people of African descent were sold here into lives of slavery?
Such a historic district can only be developed as a result of a real community conversation, primarily within the Black community. Some suggestions so far are to lncude parkland, a museum, genealogy center, bookstore, performing arts space, educational conference center and more that would draw millions from across the country and around the world. For those only interested in the money, it would generate far more revenue for the city, its hotels, motels, restaurants and other attractions than a minor-league ballpark that only draws crowds from the surrounding counties – crowds that after the ballgames get right back on the highway and go home. And it doesn't require the city taking on a $100 million public debt that could leave us headed to bankruptcy if the economy falls into another recession.
Here's some media coverage on the alternative proposal:
Nearly 3,200 people have signed the petition against a Shockoe Bottom stadium. Stories about this struggle have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Toronto Star, Ottawa Sun and in news outlets throughout Africa. Richmond City Council is taking the highly unusual move of holding public district hearings before voting on the developers' proposal. We all are putting up a great fight, but we need more people to get involved if we are to prevail over the powerful influences of money and politics.
* Ask your friends on social media to sign the ONLINE PETITION. (See "Take Action Now" on the upper right of this home page.) As of March 5 we had nearly 3,200 signatures! This is by far the largest expression of public opinion on this issue to date. Let's keep it going and not let our opponents beat us at community organizing!
* Contact your City Council representatives and tell them you won't stand for a stadium in Shockoe Bottom. The pro-business group Venture Richmond has hired a public relations firm to try and build support on council. They have the money, but we have the numbers. Express yourself! For contact information, see:
* Bring your friends to the City Council meetings and district hearings. Bring signs - and speak out!
* Make a sign and put it in your car window and a front window in your house. Write a song. Draw a picture. Make council see the writing on the walls. Be creative. Be your own leader.
* Stadium opponents have been lobbying every member of City Council, and we do not believe the mayor has the seven out of nine votes necessary to pass the land-related ordinances necessary to put a stadium in the Bottom - but we won't know for sure till council votes. Until then, more pressure is needed.
We are NOT against development. In fact, opponents have developed an alternative plan, one that would bring in much-needed revenue for the City and allow development on the Boulevard and non-sacred areas of Shockoe Bottom while properly memorializing the area where hundreds of thousands of people of African descent suffered, resisted and as a people survived one of the worst atrocities in human history. See "Alternative Vision for Shockoe Bottom" at www.shockoebottom.blogspot.com.
'NO to a Shockoe Stadium - YES to a Historic District!'
Dear friends, Here's the link to the Autumn issue of THE VIRGINIA DEFENDER. We hope you find it helpful and informative. http://www.defendersfje.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/VDef_9_3_for_web.pdf There are stories on the struggle to reclaim Shockoe Bottom and properly memorialize its history, disturbing new allegations of mistreatment of inmates in the Richmond City Jail, profiles of all the candidates for the office of Richmond sheriff, news about the 2014 Virginia People's Assembly, our endorsements for the Nov. 5 election and much more. With this issue, we are completing our ninth year of publishing - not bad for an all-volunteer effort. If you appreciate the Defender, please help us keep fighting the good fight. We need more people to help distribute the paper, solicit ads, send in a few dollars and give us ideas for stories. If interested, just reply to this email. And to make a contribution, please log onto www.DefendersFJE.org and use the PayPal button, or send a check or money order made out to "Defenders Publications, Inc." to: Defender, PO Box 23202, Richmond, VA 23223. Thanks much, and we look forward to receiving your feedback on this issue. In the Struggle for Justice & Peace for All, Phil Wilayto Editor The Virginia Defender UPDATE: Counting speakers and media, more than 60 people attended our Oct. 14 press conference outside Richmond City Hall. There were reporters and photographers from the Richmond Free Press, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Style Weekly, Associated Press, TV Channels 6 and 8 and The Virginia Defender. The AP story has gone national. Here's a sample of the news coverage:
scholars protest Shockoe Bottom ballpark plan
formidable coalition of activists and historical scholars drew a line
at Richmond City Hall today over an expected proposal by Mayor Dwight
C. Jones to build a minor-league baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom
in what one historian called "the heart of the interstate slave
trade" in the antebellum South.
Va. Historians and community activists argued Monday that a section
of Richmond that was home to the city's once-thriving slave-trading
center is no place to build a minor league baseball park.
This AP story has been picked up by newspapers around the country,
including the (Charlottesville)
Va.) News & Advance, (Staunton, Va.,) News Leader, Charlotte
Observer, Knoxville News Sentinel, Shelbyville (Tn.) Times-Gazette,
(Tn.) State Gazette, West Virginia News, the Miami Herald,
WXBC-Kentucky-State News and many news websites.
6 - WTVR
speaks out against yet-to-be-proposed Shockoe stadium
Va. (WTVR) – In an apparent attempt to get ahead of the curve
(ball), a group spoke out Monday against building a
yet-to-be-formally-proposed baseball stadium in Richmond’s Shockoe
very idea of a new Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern
League) ballpark in the city's Shockoe Bottom district is causing
protests today because of the site's past as a slave-trading area.
coalition of activists and academics oppose putting a ballpark in an
area that was once the second-most-busy area for slave trading in the
United States, behind New Orleans. Activists have worked for years to
locate a slave-trading museum in the area, but funding has not
materialized. Still, their contention is that a ballpark on a
culturally sensitive area is inappropriate.
'Opposition coalesces against a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom' Style Weekly - Oct. 11, 2013
By Ned Oliver
Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones hasn’t formally released his plan to build a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom, but that isn’t stopping a long line of high-profile opponents from voicing their distaste for the idea.
One such group of heavy hitters announced today that it would hold a news conference in front of City Hall on Monday.
“With Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones
seemingly poised to announce a new stadium as part of a private
economic development project in Shockoe Bottom, a strong majority of
residents surveyed in all four jurisdictions say a new stadium should
be built on the Boulevard. … [A] a baseball stadium in Shockoe
Bottom faces significant political opposition, including concern that
such a development would desecrate the sites of the notorious slave
markets that flourished there until after the Civil War.”
VIRGINIA SCHOLARS SPEAK OUT!
A statement opposing a Shockoe stadium has been signed by nearly three dozen Virginia university professors, Ph.D.s and other scholars, including folks from Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Richmond, Virginia State University, Virginia Tech and the College of William and Mary. Also, Richmond native Viola Baskerville; former U.S. Ambassador and Richmond resident Randolph Bell; Christy S. Coleman, President of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, Richmond; Urban Studies scholar Dr. John V. Moeser; S. Waite Rawls III, President & CEO of Richmond's Museum of the Confederacy; Paula D. Royster, President & CEO of the Center for African American Genealogical Research, Inc.; and Richard B. Woodward, Curator of African Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
If you are a scholar, we invite you to add your name. CLICK HERE for a copy of the statement. If you'd like to sign, please send your name, academic title and institution to: DefendersFJE@hotmail.com.
“Questions & Answers about putting a baseball stadium in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom.” This two-sided sheet is designed to answer questions we have been hearing about the stadium proposal. To download a copy, CLICK HERE.
As of Dec. 10, we had gathered 2,039 signatures on the "No Stadium in Shockoe Bottom" petition! There were 959 signatures on the online petition and the rest on hard copies. More than 80% of the signatures are from Richmond. If you haven't signed yet, please do it now. And also share this site with your online friends and download the petition to collect signatures from those who are not online. One thousand was the minimum goal, to show there is real opposition to building a for-profit baseball stadium on the site of what once was the second-largest slave-trading district in the country. We will keep gathering signatures until this ill-conceived proposal is buried once and for all.
While most of the signatures gathered so far are from Richmond residents, there also are signers from more than 20 states and several other countries. In addition, we have received a statement opposing a Shockoe stadium from Randall Robinson, the Richmonder who founded the organization TransAfrica and authored "The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks." Also, Saladin Muhammad, a co-founder of the North-Carolina-based Black Workers for Justice, and the United National Antiwar Coalition, the largest peace alliance in the U.S., have taken positions against the stadium. (For their statements, see "Why We Say No" in the drop-down menu above.)
In addition to petitioning and the press conference, we are asking local organizations and prominent individuals to take a stand on this issue. Those who have voiced their opposition to a Shockoe Bottom stadium include: African Ancestral Chamber AfroCity Tours Kim Allen, Ph.D. – Educator & Anthropologist, Richmond 13ainbridge Collective Viola Baskerville – Citizen and Richmond native Omilade Janine Bell – Founder & Director, Elegba Folklore Society Randolph Bell – Former U.S. Ambassador; President, First Freedom Center * Dr. Michael L. Blakey – NEH Prof. of Anthropology & American Studies, College of William & Mary Christy S. Coleman – President, of American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, Richmond Collective X Ana Edwards – Chair, Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality Flying Brick Library W. Neal Holmes, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Virginia State University King Salim Khalfani - Executive Director, Virginia State Conference NAACP * Dr. John V. Moeser– Emeritus Professor of Urban Studies & Planning at VCU * Marian Mollin, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of History, Virginia Tech S. Waite Rawls III – President & CEO, Museum of the Confederacy RePHRAME– Residents of Public Housing Against Mass Evictions Richmond Branch NAACP Richmond Peace Education Center Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project Paula D. Royster – Fulbright Scholar Specialist, Cultural Anthropology; President & CEO, Center for African American Genealogical Research, Inc. Philip J. Schwarz, Ph.D. – Emeritus Professor of History, Virginia Commonwealth University Kara Thompson – Assistant Professor of English & American Studies, College of William and Mary Shawn O. Utsey, Ph.D. – Professor of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University Virginia Chapter Sierra Club Jonathan B. Wight, Ph.D. – Professor of Economics, University of Richmond Phil WIlayto– Editor, The Virginia Defender Mark Wood, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University Richard B. Woodward – Curator of African Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts * Organization listed for identification purposes only