Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Solomon Northup descendant Linsey Williams to participate in April 3rd Liberation Day event

Shockoe stadium opponents to celebrate 149th anniversary
of ending of slavery in Richmond

In the spring of 1841, a Black man named Solomon Northup spent a night in a Shockoe Bottom slave jail, most likely the one at 17th and East Grace streets owned by trader William Goodwin. Northup wrote about his experience in his 1853 book “Twelve Years a Slave,” now an Oscar-winning movie.

On Thursday, April 3, Northup descendant Linsey Williams of Fredericksburg will read her ancestor's account of his Shockoe Bottom experience, while standing on the very site where he was held. The site is within the footprint of the minor-league baseball stadium that is the centerpiece of Mayor Dwight C. Jones' $200 million Revitalize RVA development proposal.

Ms. Williams will be participating in “Liberation Day 2014,” a commemoration and celebration of the 149th anniversary of the liberation of Richmond by Union troops, led by Black soldiers, an event that ended some 200 years of slavery in the former capital of the Confederacy.

The event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the site of Lumpkin's Jail at 15th and East Grace streets.

“The purpose of this program is to symbolically reclaim the sacred ground of Shockoe Bottom, once the epicenter of the U.S. domestic slave trade, and to demonstrate why it is a totally inappropriate place for a sports stadium,” said Ana Edwards, Chair of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project of the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality.

Hosted by Ms. Edwards, the program will include an overview of the slave trade in Richmond by cultural anthropologist Dr. Kim Allen; a reading of eyewitness accounts of the events of April 3, 1865, by Urban AWAREness, Inc. Founder Jah Sparkks; and an explanation of slave-trade related sites within the footprint of the proposed stadium and related development by Richmond historian Elizabeth Kambourian.

This event is being co-sponsored by Kim Allen, Ph.D., Cultural Anthropologist; Ana Edwards, Chair, Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project; Jah Sparkks, Founder, Urban AWAREness, Inc.; Vinny Weeks, President, Richmond Chapter, All As One the Vision; and Phil Wilayto, Editor, The Virginia Defender.

Liberation Day 2014 is free and open to the public. Children are welcome.

For more information, contact the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality at 804-644-5834 or

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


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.

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 an "Alternative Vision for Shockoe Bottom" at


'NO to a Shockoe Stadium - YES to a Historic District!'