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The Richmond Peace Education Center has chosen to honor the Sacred Ground Reclamation Project as its 2011 Peacemaker of the Year.
Members of the Sacred Ground Reclamation Project have led one of the most successful grassroots organizing campaigns in Richmond history-resulting in recognition and preservation of Richmond's African Burial Ground in Shockoe Bottom as an important historical landmark. In the process, this movement has forced Richmond to confront its history as a center of the slave trade, from which hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans were sent "down the river," and to recognize the enormous contributions that those enslaved people made to the economic development of our region and our nation.
As a result of years of effort by this organization and its many community supporters, Richmond's African Burial Ground is being reclaimed from its current use as a paved VCU parking lot. The state legislature appropriated without dissent, and the governor authorized over three million dollars to pay for this transformation-an extraordinary achievement in a time of severe budget cuts. Members of this organization have helped encourage development and wider use of the city's commemorative slave trail as well.
The Sacred Ground Reclamation Project emphasizes the connections between the institution of slavery and the economic development of our community and nation, as well as the intimate human connection between the Richmond slave trade and those descendants of enslaved Africans who passed through our city and who now live throughout the United States. The leaders of this movement have dedicated more than seven years of their lives to this project, sacrificing many hours of their time as well as opportunities for personal advancement. In the process, they have taken on the most powerful interests in the region, including both the city and state governments and Virginia Commonwealth University. They have even risked arrest in order to see that the pavement on the parking lot is removed and the lot closed and reclaimed as hallowed ground
The Project continues to emphasize the need to employ African-American contractors--descendants of those buried in Shockoe Bottom--in the restoration of the site. And it continues to insist that Richmond's African-American community play the major role in determining how the site will ultimately be memorialized.
The Sacred Ground Reclamation Project will be honored at the Peace Center's annual dinner and auction on Saturday, November 5, 2011. For more information or reservations for that event, contact the Richmond Peace Education Center at 232-1002 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information:
Richmond Peace Education Center, 400 W. 32nd St., Richmond VA 23225
(804) 232-1002; email@example.com; www.rpec.org
Sacred Ground web site: http://defendersfje.tripod.com/sacredgroundproject/
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