Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site/Devil’s Half Acre - Community Meeting 3

October 21, 2017, Plant Zero, Richmond, VA

 

Executive Summary
This Community Meeting for the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site/Devil’s Half Acre (LSJS/DHA) project in Richmond, Virginia focused on the Visitor Experience Plan, which is being designed by Gallagher & Associates. The meeting included exercises for community members that would provide targeted feedback and advance the project, and several interpretive performances designed to engage the community and show the breadth of possible experiences at LSJS/DHA. All of the information gathered at this meeting will help move the Visitor Experience forward.

Performances

  1. Elegba Folklore Society. A drum and spoken word performance about the American enslavement of African people and the legacy of that enslavement.
  2. Harold Green, Performance Artist. “The Answer” - a video poetic piece developed for another Gallagher & Associates project. Shows opportunities for reaching new audiences and communicating stories in new ways. Mr. Green also read an excerpt from the biography of Anthony Burns, an enslaved man who spent 4 months at Lumpkin’s Slave Jail.
  3. Almeta Ingram. Performance of an African Libation Ceremony

Introduction
Following a welcome by Al Dobbins, the workshop began with a project overview of the work done to date. The Statement of Purpose results were printed on posters throughout the meeting space, reflecting the community collaboration and progress that’s been made to date. The Visitor Experience Plan (VEP) for LSJS/DHA was then introduced, which is the focus for this community meeting. The VEP is underway and all development is based on the foundational information gained from community members and stakeholders at past meetings.

The Visitor Experience Plan
The goal for this project is to create a visitor experience so powerful and compelling that visitors talk about it after their visit and tell their friends and family. The Visitor Experience establishes a clear, meaningful framework for communicating core messages. It will be meaningful, powerful, educational and healing. We cannot do everything at this site, but there are many valuable partner sites that we can connect to, tell more stories, and reinforce the messages here at Lumpkin’s.

Exercise 1 - What Do We Want Visitors To Feel?
Using a list of audience groups and a list of selected emotional keywords, we asked the community members to identify the key emotions that they felt were most important for each audience group to experience. We will use this data as part of the design process.

  1. Primary Audiences
    • Local, regional, and national tourists
    • Families
    • Middle and high school students, and teachers
  2. Secondary Audiences
    • Apathetic or indifferent citizens, avoiders, naysayers
    • Historians, researchers, scholars
    • Policy-makers and politicians
    • Donors and decision-makers

Following Exercise 1, models for visitor experiences and interpretation at sites of conscience, painful histories, and archaeological sites were shown to the community, to show the range of approaches to content:

  • Apartheid Museum
  • Killing Field Museum in Cambodia
  • Flight 93 Memorial
  • Acropolis Museum

Exercise 2 - What Stories Must be Told Here?
Community members were given the list of themes and stories that have been developed during the course of the project. These stories have come from the meetings with stakeholders, the community, and educators and scholars:

  • Business and Politics of Slavery
  • A Day in the Life at Lumpkin’s
  • Histories of Enslaved Individuals
  • Revolution and Resistance
  • Impact of the Slave Trade
  • Freedom and Equality?
  • Survival & Legacy
     

Exercise 3 - Visitor Takeaways
What do we want people to take away from the experience and how do we want them to feel?

  • The Exposed Truth - the truth is told here, it is tangible and real
  • An American Narrative - this is an American narrative, not an African-American narrative
  • Legacy of Enslavement - what is it? How has it evolved?
  • Equality, Justice & Freedom - do these things really exist for all Americans?
  • Hope & Resilience - what are the stories that reveal perseverance and triumph over hardship?
  • Empowerment & Unity - how do we take the stories of what happened here and what they mean in America, and inspire action?
  • Why Should We Care? Why is enslavement still relevant today?

We will publish exercise results on the website and we want input from the broader
public on these important issues. Please ask your friends and neighbors to participate.

Visitor Survey
We have posted a Visitor Experience survey on the website, which will be online until 5:00 pm November 22, 2017. Please take a moment to complete the survey and share with your friends and family. Your thoughts and opinions about this project are integral to its success. We look forward to hearing from you.