RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Four memorial sites have been recommended for human remains unearthed during a Virginia Commonwealth University construction project more than two decades ago.
The remains were found in an abandoned 19th century well while work was being done on the Hermes A. Kontos Medical Services Building in the 1990s.
The remains are believed to be largely of African descent and the Family Representative Council has recommended the remains be placed in coffins designed by West African artists interred at either the African Burial Ground near I-95 or Evergreen Cemetery in a ceremony developed by experts in West African traditions.
The recommendation also advises the university to erect four memorials near the Kontos Building and hold an annual memorial service with VCU medical students.
In a press release, VCU said the recommendation was to “pay respect to those who have contributed their remains for the benefit of scientific learning.”
The site where the remains were discovered is to be used for research to study the “broader experience of Africans and African-Americans in Richmond and how the site impacts contemporary African-American medical experiences.”
The Family Representative Council was formed in 2015 to represent the descendants of those whose remains were discovered.
In the release, council member Joseph Jones, who is an assistant anthropology professor at the College of William and Mary, said the recommended actions “will restore the visibility and human dignity.”
VCU president Michael Rao offered his thanks to committee for “giving a voice to human beings who did not receive respect during their lifetime and after their passing.”
A public presentation regarding the site will be made Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the Kontos Building at 1217 E. Marshall Street.