‘Hidden in Plain Site’ offers virtual tour of Richmond’s African American history

Updated: Nov. 25, 2020 at 8:22 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A virtual journey launched Thanksgiving eve to give anyone in the world a deeper understanding of the African American experience in Richmond, dating back to when the first enslaved people were sold in the River City.

Hidden in Plain Site” takes the viewer on a 360 degree, virtual reality tour of 11 sites that many Richmonders have walked by countless times before, often not knowing the extreme horror - or incredible vibrancy - once held in those places.

”We want to talk about that ugly history. We want folks to understand the true pain and suffering that happened here,” said Dontrese Brown, one of the project’s co-creators. “We wanted to give an opportunity for that voice and that narrative to be told by the culture that needs to tell that narrative.”

Hidden in Plain Site is both a mobile-friendly website or virtual reality headset experience that relives Black history.

“We started at Lumpkin’s Jail,” said Brown, who’s also a professor at Randolph-Macon College. “There’s a lot of pain. There’s a lot of history that needs to be told (there).”

The immense contribution of the Black community is also shared.

“You can be sitting on your couch at home, and then be right in front of you is the Hippodrome…what’s there now and what it looked like years ago. We’re in the Harlem of the South. You’re hearing music. You’re understanding the vibrance of that community… I’m walking by this parking lot, but this is where Thalhimers was, where the Richmond 34 did their sit-in.”

Brown and his partners began the self-funded project after the killing of George Floyd.

“We wanted to shine light in the conversation around social justice,” said Brown. “…the energy of our city and our community and our nation is coming together for equality, social justice, equity, and just doing what’s right. That will leave you so inspired to actually visit these sites themselves.”

To experience Hidden in Plain Site through the special headset, the creators are working to set up exhibits at museums in Richmond, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, The Black History Museum of Virginia and the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

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