A Slave Cemetery May Lie Beneath a Parking Lot at Virginia Commonwealth University
Sa’ad El-Amin, founder of The Society for Preservation of African-American History and Antiquities, petitioned a circuit court judge in Richmond to demand that the state of Virginia use “state-of-the-art test excavations” to determine if a parking lot on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University was on top of a slave cemetery. An earlier state report said that it was likely a large portion of the cemetery lay beneath Interstate 95 but that a portion of the old burial ground might extend into the parking area.
The state claimed it would cost $100,000 to make the necessary excavations and that it was opposed to tampering with what might be sacred burial ground. The university has stopped using the part of the parking lot in the disputed area. It has offered to give the land to the city in exchange for a similar size parcel elsewhere that could be used for parking.
But earlier this month, the court ruled that the university was not required to make the excavations to determine whether the cemetery boundaries were under its parking lot. The court did leave the door open for other less costly testing and advised the plaintiffs to file an amended petition.