Author: RyanSmith

  • The burying ground and the billboard

    On Monday, February 5, I received a distressing message from Lenora McQueen, descendant and key advocate for the Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground. Through a review of recent photographs of the site with archaeologist and ally Ellen Chapman, the two saw that VCU Health had recently placed an advertisement on one of the two billboard…

  • St. James Cemetery event, 11/30

    This Fall 2023 semester, the Richmond Cemetery Collaboratory (recently renamed from the East End Cemetery Collaboratory) has engaged with St. James Cemetery in Varina just east of Richmond. The governing organization of the cemetery is the Star of Benevolence Society, which is connected to a historic lodge and schoolhouse on the property at St. James…

  • Pajka’s Souls Close to Edgar Allan Poe

    Sharon Pajka, the prolific Richmond-region author and cemetery friend, releases a new book today. Titled The Souls Close to Edgar Allan Poe, it has an inviting cover photograph of the Allan grave markers in Shockoe Hill Cemetery. Sharon explains: “My book includes a collection of thirty-seven memorials, nineteen cemeteries and five states, plus Washington, D.C.…

  • East End/Evergreen Cemeteries Community Conversation

    The wheels of justice are still turning slowly for the Enrichmond Foundation’s accountability following its mismanagement of Evergreen Cemetery, East End Cemetery, and broader community relations. In the first half of 2023, various news outlets have reported that the fiscal agent is apparently under investigation by the FBI and the Virginia state attorney general’s office.…

  • Liberty and Death and conservation in St. John’s Churchyard

    On Thursday, May 25, at 7:00pm, I will be delivering a talk at St. John’s Church for the Historic St. John’s Church Foundation’s Walter W. Craigie Speaker Series. Titled, “Liberty and Death in St. John’s Churchyard,” the talk will offer an overview of the history of the churchyard, which is the oldest surviving burial ground…

  • Woodland Cemetery open house

    These are exciting days for Woodland Cemetery. Descendants and volunteers there have transformed the site under the leadership of the Woodland Restoration Foundation, with bigger plans to come. They invite the public to celebrate with them and learn more at a family-friendly open house to be held at the cemetery on Saturday, May 20, starting…

  • Slavery, Shockoe Hill, and MCV

    In December 2022, historian Peter J. Wosh completed his study of the historical ties between the Medical College of Virginia and slavery. Wosh’s report was commissioned by VCU administrators in accordance with Virginia House Bill 1980, and it is well worth a read. Wosh made use of a great deal of archival evidence, despite the…

  • Where Evergreen/East End are heading

    The pressure continues to build for the city to clean up the mess left behind by the Enrichmond Foundation at Evergreen Cemetery and East End Cemetery, which together make up 76 acres of African American graves along the city/county line. On February 13, 2023, city council members Cynthia Newbille and Anne-Frances Lambert introduced a resolution…

  • $16 million from Mellon

    On December 20, 2022, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced that the city had received an $11 million grant from the Mellon Foundation via its Monuments Project for the Shockoe heritage campus interpretive center. This award was part of a larger $16 million package from the Foundation’s Monuments Project aimed at Richmond’s revised monumental landscape. The…

  • RIP Representative McEachin

    I was saddened to hear of the death of Congressman A. Donald McEachin on November 28. In my own most recent experience with Rep. McEachin, he was talking with the local African American descendant community about his co-sponsored African American Burial Grounds Preservation Program bill. Around that same time, he had issued a letter to…