Columnist Michael Paul Williams on the Devil’s Half Acre:
“Regardless of whether Robert Lumpkin has his name immortalized, his half-acre slave jail site does not measure up to the task of fully telling Richmond’s slave-trading history.
“Lumpkin’s name has become a source of disagreement among elected officials and residents debating how to best commemorate the horrors of Shockoe Bottom, epicenter of a domestic slave trade market in Richmond that was once second only to New Orleans…
“It’s easy to see how Lumpkin’s Jail emerged as a focal point of the commemoration effort. Even before two archaeological digs at the site between 2005 and 2010, its story was the most familiar to emerge about the slave trade in Shockoe Bottom.
Robert Lumpkin left the property to his widow, a formerly enslaved black woman, upon his death. Mary Lumpkin leased it to a school that would eventually become Virginia Union University…”
With quotes from Joshua Rothman, Gregg Kimball, and Phillip Troutman.
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