Posts Tagged ‘justice and equality’

MEDIA RELEASE

From the African Ancestral Chamber and the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality

Richmond, Virginia

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 1, 2013

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Omowale Deane – African Ancestral Chamber – 804-437-0681africanancestralchamber@gmail.com

Ana Edwards – Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality – 804-517-4049ourrosewood@gmail.com

 

Richmond groups to mark ‘Richmond Liberation Day’

by opposing plan for a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom

 

The African Ancestral Chamber and the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality will hold a press conference and vigil at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3rd, at the corner of Crane and East Broad streets in Shockoe Bottom. The purpose of the events is to commemorate Richmond Liberation Day, and bring attention to unfavorable developments such as a sports stadium within the historic district where captive Africans were sold.

April 3rd will be the 148th anniversary of the day that African American soldiers led Union troops into Richmond, liberating its people from Confederate rule, freeing enslaved Africans from the notorious Lumpkin’s Jail and ending slavery in the city, where it had existed for more than 300 years. The day was annually celebrated by Richmond’s African American community until the beginning of the Jim Crow era.

The corner of Crane and East Broad streets is next to the Exxon gas station, which stands on the site of what once was Omohundro’s Jail, a holding structure for enslaved Africans similar to Lumpkin’s. Plans by various groups in the City call for placing a stadium at this site.

Following the vigil, participants will visit Richmond’s African Burial Ground to show their respect for the ancestors buried there.

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A reminder that although VCU has finally closed the parking lot on the Richmond African Burial Ground, 4 people still have court this Wednesday over their act of civil disobedience protesting the use of the Burial Ground as a parking lot.  Please come out this Wednesday to support them! Details below.

From the Richmond Defenders:

As the subject header suggests, the battle to reclaim the Richmond African Burial Ground is finally over!  You may recall at the last COC meeting, five individuals volunteered to become members of the Coordinating Committee (CC).  The CC members are:  Autumn Barrett, David Boothe, Donnell Brantley, Rolandah “Cleopattrah” McMillan, and Janet “Queen Nzinga” Taylor.  The charge of the CC is to keep you informed and we will endeavor to do just that.

While we can relish this victory, we must still remain ever vigilant until this Sacred Ground is properly memorialized.  Below is the statement released by the Defenders on behalf of the COC, and important dates for you to remember.  We would also like to thank you, the community, for taking a stand and helping to bring this reclamation to fruition.

We look forward ever, backward NEVER!

Janet B. Taylor
Coordinating Committee
Celebrate the Reclamation of the Burial Ground/Support the Four Advocates
The VCU parking lot which for years desecrated the Richmond African Burial Ground was finally closed, Saturday, May 21 and is scheduled to be removed starting, Tuesday, May 24.  The African Burial Ground, formerly the Burial Ground for Negroes, is the city’s oldest known municipal cemetery for enslaved Africans and free people of African descent.

After years of community agitation, the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year passed a bill authorizing the transfer of the 3.4 acre site from VCU to the City of Richmond.  The City has placed a marker on the site explaining its historical and cultural significance as well as detailing Richmond’s leading role in the internal U.S. slave trade.

Part of the activism that eventually led to the closing of the parking lot occurred, Tuesday, April 12, the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.  Eight community activists were successful in closing down the parking lot for an hour and a half.  Four of the eight -Donnell Brantley, Rolandah “Cleopattrah” McMillan, Autumn Barrett and Phil Wilayto – were subsequently arrested and charged with trespassing.  They are being represented pro bono by the law firm of Benjamin & DesPortes, a leading criminal defense firm.  As McMillan explained, “We decided to close the parking lot ourselves…We wanted the whole world to see that this state institution has no respect for the community that surrounds it.”

For more information, please contact Janet “Queen Nzinga” Taylor, 804-347-3598 or OneRastaQueen@hotmail.com.

IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER:

Monday, May 23, 6 pm
Public Hearing, Richmond City Council Chambers, 2nd floor/City Hall, 900 W. Broad St. The City will vote to accept the land transfer from VCU.

Tuesday, May 24, 10:30 am
Groundbreaking Ceremony, Richmond African Burial Ground, 15th & Broad streets.

Wednesday, May 25, 9 am
Support vigil outside the Manchester Courthouse, 920 Hull Street, followed by the 10 am trial of the four African Burial Ground advocates who shut down the VCU parking lot, April 12.  Please wear a white shirt or blouse as a show of solidarity.

Sunday, June 5, 4-6 pm
Community Organizing Committee meeting, location TBA. (Note:  Meetings are always the first Sunday of the month, 4-6pm; you will be notified of the location.)

——————————————- Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality A group of Richmond area residents working to improving the lives of people in our community. Phone & Fax 804.644.5834 . PO Box 23202, Richmond VA 23223 . DefendersFJE@hotmail.com

Please read this article and sign the petition about the parking of cars on Richmond’s African Burial Ground by VCU. This is a dramatic example of institutionalized white privilege and racism. Imagine the public outcry if VCU built a parking lot on Hollywood Cemetery. Parking on sacred ground is not acceptable, and it has only gone on for so long due to historical and current white supremacy and racism which infect most institutions and capitalist ventures. The Wingnut Anarchist Collective stands in solidarity with everyone fighting to end this disrespectful and oppressive treatment of a historical and spiritual site.

End VCU/MCV Parking on Richmond’s African Burial Ground

by: Kenneth Yates x370724

A place called Shockoe Bottom in Richmond, Virginia was once the center of the African slave trade in North America. However if you were to visit this area you would never know it. Beneath the night clubs, condominiums, office buildings, and streets lies a history grossly repressed by capitalist appetites for commercial development.

One hidden piece of history in particular lies beneath a parking lot publicly owned and utilized by the Virginia Commonwealth University & Medical College of Virginia staff and students.



Photo by: Kenneth Yates

 In 1992 local historian and author Elizabeth Cann Kambourian, while researching for a book about a local slave rebellion leader named Gabriel, discovered something. Around 1800, inspired by the Haitian Revolution which was in full swing at the time, Gabriel plotted one of the most organized slave revolts in United States history. The plan was for hundreds of enslaved Africans, free Blacks and a few whites to to enter the city of Richmond, take the governor hostage and demand the abolition of slavery in Virginia. The revolt, however, was crushed after an intense 100 year storm flooded the area, making it impossible for Gabriel and his army to enter the city.

With information given by one of Gabriel’s collaborators, the then Richmond Governor James Monroe formed a militia to hunt down Gabriel and his co-conspirators. Gabriel was eventually captured, tried and, on Oct. 10, 1800, executed at the town gallows, located in what was then called the Burial Ground for Negroes. At least 25 of his comrades met the same fate, either at the same site or in surrounding areas.

The burial ground was retired sometime around 1810, after hundreds, perhaps thousands of enslaved Africans had been buried there. The exact number is unknown. Before long the burial ground itself fell into obscurity, eventually buried beneath 10-20 feet of filler as the land took on many other uses over the years.

Kambourian discovered an old Richmond City map placing the African Burial Ground just north of 15th & Broad Street. That area is now partially covered by Interstate 95, with the remaining portion of the Burial Ground buried beneath a parking lot utilized by both VCU & MCV staff and students. The exact boundaries are yet to be determined.

The Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality have been fighting to reclaim this sacred ground from its present desecration. (more…)

Richmond protest called to condemn deadly military attack by Israeli forces on international humanitarian aid activists!

Local anti-war activists and members of Richmond’s Arab-American and Muslim communities will gather from 5-6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 1, outside Richmond City Hall to condemn yesterday morning’s murderous attack – in international waters – by Israeli military forces against unarmed humanitarian aid workers. The protest, a sidewalk vigil, is being called by the Arab American Association of Virginia and the Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality.

The protesters will demand the immediate release of the surviving aid workers, international condemnation of the Israeli government for this criminal act and the immediate lifting of the three-year Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

It has been reported that, early on the morning of May 31, 20 unarmed civilians, members of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, were killed and 50 more wounded in an illegal, barbarous and completely unprovoked attack that took place in the Mediterranean Sea some some 75 miles off the coast of the Palestinian Gaza Strip. (more…)