City releases guidelines for slave block discussion

by | Sep 19, 2017 | Government, History

From City of Fredericksburg

City Council is holding a public forum this Saturday, September 23rd to hear public
comments on the two options for the future of the slave auction block located at the corner of
William Street and Charles Street. The public forum will take place at James Monroe High School
located at 2300 Washington Avenue and will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 11:00 a.m. Doors
for the event will open at 7:45 a.m. Dr. David A. Sam, former president of Germanna Community
College, will facilitate the forum.
How to Speak at the Public Forum:
Individuals must sign up to speak before the start of the meeting. Speakers may sign up in
a variety of ways:
• Through the City website
• By email to the Clerk of Council
• By phone to the Clerk of Council, 540-372-1010
• In person at the office of the Clerk of Council, on the second floor of City Hall located
at 715 Princess Anne Street. The Clerk of Council will receive speaker sign-up until
4:30 p.m., Friday, September 22nd
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. 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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