The Future of Shockoe Bottom

The history-laden Shockoe Bottom area of Richmond has been subject to a lot of development, proposals, and visions over the years. One of the most constructive voices in the process, the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project of the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, has put together a symposium on the subject, to be held at and co-sponsored by the Library of Virginia on December 7, 2019. Titled “Truth and Conciliation in the 400th Year: A Shockoe Bottom Public History Symposium,” the program will run from 8:30am to 4:30pm. It will feature a set of four sequential panel discussions, roughly tracing the history and modern commemoration of the area, as well as its future. Attendance is free. The program features nationally-significant figures, including Michael Blakey, Christy Coleman, and Carmen Foster among many others. The program explains:

“With panel discussions and cultural presentations, this all-day symposium will examine the history of Africans and people of African descent in Virginia from their earliest days to the present and the vital role that Shockoe Bottom has played in that history. This nationally significant event is co-sponsored and hosted by the Library of Virginia, and will also present resources the library has available for African-American academic topics, family history researchers, and the general public. Our goal is to make crystal-clear the historical importance of Shockoe Bottom; its tremendous potential for education, reparations and conciliation; and the great crime that would be committed if its physical presence were lost to inappropriate development. A centerpiece of the symposium will be presenting the community-generated proposal for a nine-acre Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park proposal as it has evolved over the past four years, highlighting the potential economic, social, and cultural benefits for the city as a whole, and particularly for today’s Black community.”

Registration is free: https://www.dec7symposium.org/p/registratio.html

I have the honor to participate in the second session with Midori Takagi, Lauranett Lee, Lenora McQueen, and Ellen Chapman. The lineup of those folks alone is exciting. I hope there is a great turnout for this important event.

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