Richmond slave trail opens

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Sunday was an historic day in Richmond as city and state leaders opened the slave trail. The unveiling officially commemorates the path slaves took once they arrived here. It was an emotional mood during the two hour celebration, which recognized one of the most turbulent times in the Capital City. Many of Sunday's speakers noted Richmond has been proud of its role in the Civil War, but one part of history had been buried both literally and figuratively, until today.

With the removal of 17 veils the Capital of the Confederacy's story continues.

When Del. Delores McQuinn, chair of the Slave Trail Commission greeted NBC12, her exact words were, "this day is finally here!" The journey for slaves and for the African American community to get to this day has been a long one.

"This finally brings balance to the story," she said. "The authentic story, we now can deal with the truth."

The $220,000 project is 17 sites throughout the city marking the path slaves took once arriving at Ancarrow's Landing on the Southside.

One of the last stops along the trail is the Lumpkin's Jail site, a holding facility for slaves before the Civil War. For almost 30 years, Richmond was home to the largest domestic slave export business in the entire country.

A who's who of state and city government recognized the trail's implications in the bigger picture.

"There's an old saying about history, 'if you forget where you've been then you don't know where you're going and you're consigned to make the same mistakes that history has made before,'" said Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Key note speaker Mayor Dwight Jones explained there is more work to be done to preserve this history and make sure it inspires today's generations.

"I tell you that we are the descendants of those whose blood runs in our veins and because that blood runs in our veins, we will never quit," he said. "We will never stop. We will never be foiled.  We will never give up the battle."

You will find a map on each marker taking you from the Southside to the First African Baptist Church on Broad Street.

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