Student Participation

 

Following the production of the final Statement of Purpose, the project team decided that inviting and encouraging participation from one of the identified target audiences for the future entity – students – would be imperative during the remainder of the project. The Visitor Experience Plan meetings and workshops had also confirmed middle and high school students as a priority audience for the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site / Devil’s Half Acre project. 

Concept Design Workshop

 Thus, the project team extended invitations to Richmond Public Schools and to Chesterfield County Schools for the inclusion of high school students with an interest in design, art, and history to join the participants at the Concept Design Workshop in December 2017. Nine students accompanied by their teachers and academic advisors attended the workshop and were invited to sit at tables amongst the participants and project team.  It was reiterated by the project team that the student participants were invited to voice their opinions and to actively participate equally with their adult peers. 

The project team observed that the student participation provided insights that had not yet been voiced by previous participants and stakeholders. The insight and feedback that the students delivered was heartfelt, deliberate, and straight forward.  They relayed that the archaeology was important to see from several angles and vantage points, that they didn’t want anything “held back” from them, but rather they wanted to hear the true story and wanted a full experience. All participants, including the students, felt that this entity developed at the site should be a combination museum-memorial-center of learning.

 The workshop closed with the high school students presenting their dreams and ideas for the site and for the project. 

 Visitor Experience Plan Progress Meeting #3/Concept Design Progress Meeting #1

The project team again invited the Richmond Public Schools students from the Concept Design workshop to participate in the combined Visitor Experience Plan Progress Meeting #3/Concept Design Progress Meeting #1 in February of 2018.  This progress meeting specifically addressed the site’s archeology, both physically and interpretively.  It built upon the findings of the Visitor Experience Plan workshop, the Community Consultation meeting, and the Concept Design Workshop.

The progress meeting was held at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Students were able to hear and meet with museum director, Dr. Lonnie Bunch, about his perspective on developing and building the new Smithsonian museum on the National Mall.  Other meeting participants included artists, researchers, academics, city officials, and community organizers.

Students engaged in exercises with other meeting participants to choose how the visitor experience and archeology should fit together. Further, students evaluated with meeting participants to evaluate and vote on overarching concept design goals that would guide the project.  Finally, all participants provided feedback on a wish-list program for the entity.

This workshop closed with students presenting summaries of what they believe the program for the entity should be.

Richmond Community High School In-School Workshop

 Two mini-workshops were held in Richmond Public Schools in April 2018. The workshops were designed to focus on a constituent group that has been identified as a primary audience for the future entity (youth, students, and teachers). The project team received many poignant ideas and thoughts from both the Concept Design workshop and the joint Progress Meeting from the student constituent group and advised that additional thoughts, ideas, and feedback would be wonderful to glean from this important group.  Both workshops gave the project team insight on what the primary audience would think, feel, and want to see at the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site / Devil’s Half Acre. 

The workshop began with an introduction of the project team and an overview of our professions related to the project: architecture, design, museum planning, archaeology, and planning. The project team then introduced the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail / Devil’s Half Acre project as a moment along the Richmond Slave Trail, and reviewed the work done to date, explaining the three main aspects of this Pre-Design Phase: the Statement of Purpose, the Visitor Experience Plan, and the Concept Design (including Site and Archaeology analysis.)  Students then had the opportunity to ask questions.

Students were then asked by the project team to imagine that they and their families or friends have just left the archaeological and interpretive site and museum at the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site / Devil’s Half Acre. They were asked to draw or write a few sentences about what they liked, what they did NOT like, how they felt, what they learned. Each voiced their thoughts and observations to the group.

In the second exercise, the students were invited to express their individual preferences about different aspects of the project through a dot exercise of images presented on boards. A board of each of the following type was displayed on a central table for the group of students to analyze:  Interior Images, Exterior Images, Archaeology and Interpretive Sites, Materials and Textures. Students, after looking at the boards, were given three red dot stickers and three green dot stickers for each panel.  They were instructed to place their red dots next to images they didn’t like, and their green dots next to images they did like. Following the sticking of dots, the posters were held up and students discussed their reasoning behind their choices.

The workshop concluded with a discussion of next steps, and an invitation from the project team to follow the project and to attend the future public meetings.

Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School In-School Workshop

This workshop, held on the same day as the Richmond Community High School In-School Workshop, began with an introduction of the project team and an overview from each member of the project team present about jobs and what we do in our jobs related to the project: architecture, design, museum planning, archaeology, and planning.  Students were encouraged to ask questions about jobs and careers.

Students sat in tables according to grade level.  There was a table of five 6th graders with two adult partners (teacher and City representative – Superintendent), five 7th graders and one teacher, and five 8th graders with a teacher.

The project team then introduced the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail / Devil’s Half Acre project as a moment along the Richmond Slave Trail, and introduced the work done to date focusing mostly on the history and the site in a general overview.  Students then had the opportunity to ask additional questions.

Students were asked to remember something for which they were proud – to recall a memory that they consider their favorite or a memory that was very important to them. This exercise kick-started to the workshop and got the students to begin to share with one another – and to ponder the notion of what is important to remember or memorialize. There was lively conversation during this exercise. Many students spoke about momentous activities that they participated in, or that meant a lot to them.

During the second exercise, students were then invited to create in groups, a collage of images, words, and textures that exemplified the project and the history of enslavement of Africans in Richmond. Each group held lively discussions, asking questions and deliberating. After creating their collages, each table presented their work.

In a third exercise, the students were invited to express their individual preferences about different aspects of the project through a dot exercise of images presented on boards. A board of each of the following type was displayed on a central table for the group of students to analyze:  Interior Images, Exterior Images, Archaeology and Interpretive Sites, Materials and Textures. Students, after looking at the boards, were given three red dot stickers and three green dot stickers for each panel. They were instructed to place their red dots next to images they didn’t like, and their green dots next to images they did like. Following the sticking of dots, the posters were held up and students discussed their reasoning behind their choices.

The workshop concluded with a graphic mural exercise, where students were invited to draw on top of city maps their dreams, ideas, sketches, and thoughts about the project. They were also invited to follow the project, tell their parents about the project, and attend future public meetings.

The project team would like to extend a thank you to the Richmond Public Schools for hosting both in-school workshops and encouraging students to participant in our project.