Shockoe Hill African Burial Ground, Richmond, VA

Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground is Now a VA Landmark

On March 17, 2022, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources voted unanimously to designate the Shockoe Hill Burying Ground Historic District in Richmond as a Virginia Landmark. The district includes the Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground, featured in The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s (TCLF) Landslide 2021: Race and Space report and digital exhibition.

Shockoe Hill African Burial Ground, Richmond, VA
Shockoe Hill African Burial Ground, Richmond, VA - Photo by Barrett Doherty, 2021

This is a major milestone for a site that TCLF’s president and CEO, Charles A. Birnbaum, characterizes as a “palimpsest of abuse.” With this designation the site will now be considered for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service, a move supported VA Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, U.S. Representative Donald McEachin, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, numerous state senators and delegates, and many national and local organizations.

The fascinating 77-page nomination was authored by Ryan Smith, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU, L. Dan Mouer, Ph.D., a retired VCU archaeology professor; Steve Thompson, Ph.D., an archaeologist who has worked with descendants of enslaved communities in Albemarle County, Virginia; and Lenora McQueen, a descendant of people interred at the site who has led advocacy efforts since 2017.

In an interview with Virginia Public Radio Smith said: “I think there’s a growing awareness that no one’s remains should be desecrated, should be treated casually or carelessly, as they have been frankly in the past for so many groups in the United States.”