Category: Uncategorized

  • Storming the U. S. Capitol

    Yesterday, on January 6, 2021, thousands of supporters of the president left a rally in DC protesting the election results to march on the United States Capitol. Hundreds breached security perimeters and broke into the capitol building where Congress was in session to certify the results of the electoral college vote. The president encouraged the…

  • “Knowledge of this cannot be hidden” at the University of Richmond

    The University of Richmond has recently installed interpretive signage for a burying ground for the enslaved that dates back to the West End campus’s previous usage as a plantation. It is located near the center of campus at the base of the steam plant. The university has also convened a Burial Ground Memorialization Committee, chaired…

  • Book release

    How do you release a book in the middle of a pandemic and a contested election? By recognizing it is not the most important thing in the world, of course. But also by relying on your friends – starting with Richmond’s own Chop Suey Books, who will be hosting my book talk for Death and…

  • Three minutes each at the horror show

    Imagine having ancestors buried in Richmond’s East End Cemetery, or simply caring about this important and historic site. Then, imagine learning that the site’s new owner, the Enrichmond Foundation, discovered human remains exposed at a crumbling bank on July 20, 2020, around the same time that the Foundation had blocked longtime volunteer leaders from continuing…

  • Richmond’s Berlin Wall moment

    “This is our Berlin Wall moment.” So read the chalk message on the sidewalk alongside the Robert E. Lee monument on Richmond’s Monument Avenue today. Looking up at the statue and its pedestal, I could recognize the familiar forms, but they had been transformed by the impromptu messages painted up and around its base: “Amerikkka”;…

  • Pandemic shutdown, week 1

    One week ago, the schools around Richmond closed. Most businesses prepared workers for telecommuting from home or had to let them go. The healthcare industry and governments ramped up for a big wave of Covid-19 cases on the near horizon. We had all heard about the novel coronavirus outbreak in China by the start of…

  • Evergreen’s plan, and feedback

    The Enrichmond Foundation recently released its master restoration plan for Evergreen Cemetery. I am still digesting the details, but its estimated cost of $18 million seems dauntingly realistic. What is more concerning at this stage continues to be Enrichmond’s process. Executive director John Sydnor’s column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on the eve of the plan’s…

  • Return of the ancestral remains

    In 1994, construction workers at Virginia Commonwealth University’s medical college uncovered a shameful episode from the past when they discovered a nineteenth-century well filled with human remains. At least 44 bodies — almost all of African ancestry — had apparently been thrown into the well following their use as anatomical or surgical specimens by the…

  • The penitentiary burials

    Local archaeologist Ellen Chapman recently completed a useful dissertation at the College of William and Mary titled “Buried Beneath the River City: Investigating an Archaeological Landscape and its Community Value in Richmond, Virginia.” In it, she detailed the archaeological recovery of a number of burials at the state penitentiary grounds. The penitentiary was built in 1800…

  • Shockoe Hill Cemetery tour, 5/20

    On Sunday, May 20, I will be leading a tour of Shockoe Hill Cemetery at 2:00pm, showcasing the many excellent student projects from this past Spring semester. We have new revelations on Nannie Caskie (the big angel monument) as well as many other stories in the cemetery. Join us there?