DRAFT STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
From the beginning, the City of Richmond required that the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail/Devil’s Half Acre project be a community collaborative process. While this Statement of Purpose is written within the original scope, it is prudent to acknowledge, and record the opinions of the community stakeholders who participated in the Community Meeting and subsequent interviews with stakeholders. These comments ranged from changing the name of the project, integrating more Richmond based consultants into the program, protecting the cultural heritage sites across Shockoe Bottom, involving descendants of slaves in the planning process, and expanding the physical scope of the project. To acknowledge those concerns, we have prepared this Statement of Purpose Addendum as a record of those community and stakeholder interactions and points of view.
The following suggestions reflect what the consulting team heard from community members that spoke at the first two public meetings and from several of the interviews or listening sessions conducted between the two community meetings.
The Community expressed that they want the City to Consider How to Preserve and Protect More of Shockoe Bottom including physical preservation and protection of priority sites and further interpretive signage and programs.
There are over 60 sites in Shockoe Bottom that were part of the lucrative domestic slave trade. The economic impact on Richmond and the nation represents a story of importance to both African American and American History. Concern was expressed that isolating this story solely in the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail/Devil’s Half Acre site will diminish and understate the National importance of the story and fail to acknowledge and preserve other sites that are part of the story. While many of these sites are buried in the same way as the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail/Devil’s Half Acre site, archaeological records may provide critical data as to the scope and character of the Slave Trade in Richmond. As a story of national importance, many participants felt that an interpretation6 and preservation strategy for these additional sites should be part of the master plan development for Shockoe Bottom. Because economic development of the area in and around the Main Street Station is a priority for the City, several participants expressed a sense of urgency to protect the sites around the Station.
There was a strong sentiment expressed by several participants that a larger scope of work (both physically and interpretively) be developed. Some felt that private and public lands should be acquired to stabilize the future of Shockoe Bottom. Others encouraged securing a limited amount of private land along with retaining City owned land required to secure appropriate access and approach to the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail/Devil’s Half Acre site. Creating respectful approaches and access points to the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail/Devil’s Half Acre site was a theme in several stakeholder discussions; that is, what will surround the project when it is opened; how will the public access the site? Will it be isolated among parking lots? However, there was no clear consensus among the community regarding the purchase of private land or the acreage required to provide a dignified surround and experience for public access and use of the site.
The Community expressed several suggestions for the City of Richmond related to this:
- Commission a Small Area Plan for Shockoe Bottom as part of the Richmond City-wide master plan;
- Consider creating a Lumpkin’s Slave Jail/Devil’s Half Acre site Project Content Advisory Task Force to provide oversight and further credibility to the historic story;
- As part of the project’s Phase 2, develop a Phase 1 interpretive program proposal for the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail/Devil’s Half Acre site that reaches out and interprets critical historic slave trade sites beyond the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail/Devil’s Half Acre site;
- Complete historic research to locate, identify, and prioritize the area sites critical to the Richmond slave trade.
The Community expressed a desire to balance economic development with interpretation and preservation of the historic area of Shockoe Bottom
There was some concern expressed that with economic development in Shockoe Bottom, there might be destruction of critical archaeological evidence that is a primary source of historic information for the Bottom’s Slave Trade story. Therefore, there was a strong recommendation from the community that some sort of historic designation of these additional sites be considered as part of the small area plan that could be developed within the City-wide master plan update. While most participants encouraged economic development, they also encouraged implementing that development in the context of a historically controlled region.
The Community expressed one suggestion for the City of Richmond:
- Commission a historic research program to complete the location and identity of sites associated with the Slave Trade in Shockoe Bottom. This study would complement the small area plan for Shockoe Bottom.
The Community expressed that they would like consideration of changing the project name
Robert Lumpkin was a despicable and cruel man. Many stakeholders agreed that Robert Lumpkin’s name should not be honored in any way. However, there were mixed responses to changing the name of the project and site. Some felt the Devil’s Half Acre was preferable as it was both descriptive, historical, and what enslaved Africans called it. Other participants felt the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site was an established historic entity in the community and a recognized historical name for the site. Still others felt that Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site/ Devil’s Half Acre expressed both the history and the horror in one title. There were also suggestions to move away from both labels and consider another name yet to be determined. It was noted that the negative representation of Robert Lumpkin as part of the interpretation of the site would serve to dishonor not honor him. An on-line poll was created as part of the project web site to allow community members to make their suggestions known regarding the name.
The Community expressed one key suggestion for the City of Richmond:
- Consider in the development of the project during Phase 2 a broader name for the project.