Council seeks slave block feedback

by | Sep 13, 2017 | History

From Fredericksburg City Council

At its meeting on August 22nd, City Council engaged in a discussion on pieces of the City
of Fredericksburg’s history, specifically the future of the slave auction block. At that meeting,
there was concurrence to allow Councilman Frye and Mayor Greenlaw to work with staff on a
plan of action. Following several meetings between City staff, Mayor Greenlaw, and Councilman
Frye, two options for the slave auction block have been developed for public consideration and
potential City Council action. City Council has launched an opportunity for community feedback
to be captured concerning the options for the future of the slave auction block.
The two options reflect the basic choice for the future of the slave auction block – for it to
remain in place, or for it to be removed. Neither option reflects a “do nothing” approach. This plan
of action envisions two avenues for community input, including a special City Council meeting
held for the purpose of receiving community comment, and a special-purpose website comment
page for online submissions. The two options are discussed in more detail below:
Option A: Keep the slave auction block in its current location, but use the existing right of way
to build a more prominent public space that buffers the encounter and places the artifact in
context. This option envisions interpretive panels, protective measures, and a better design for
pedestrian flow.
Option B: Replace the auction block with a historic marker and directions to its new location,
likely in the Fredericksburg Area Museum. FAM is preparing a permanent exhibit that tells the
story of the lives of the working people of Fredericksburg.
It is important to recognize that the City Council decision-making process, specific to the
future of the slave auction block, takes place within the larger context of a community dialogue
about race, history, and memory. This community dialogue has already begun, and it should
continue, with leadership from the local religious community, business community, historians,
academic institutions, and the local African American community and institutions. City Council
members will wish to support this larger conversation and to participate in it.
Online submissions (or mailed submissions) can be submitted through 12:00 p.m. on
Monday, September 25th. To participate please go to www.fredericksburgva.gov/slaveauctionblock
City staff will compile all comments received into a document and provide them to City Council
on Tuesday, September 26th. The topic will be listed on the City Council meeting agenda for
September 26 for any preliminary discussion or direction to staff Council may wish to provide at
that time.

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