The Aug. 19 front-page article about African Americans and others in Buckingham County, Va., fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, “ ‘It’s the resistance’: Baptists, yogis unite,” offered a stark reminder of the dangers of ignoring the lessons of history and basic human rights.
The pipeline’s builders have chosen to dismiss the importance of the historically black community of Union Hill and the residents’ concerns about health and environmental hazards by declaring the area “does not exhibit a cohesive cultural landscape.”
This is eerily similar to the shortsighted excuses used throughout history to kill and displace Native Americans and to bulldoze and bully black residents of Southwest Washington and pave over neighborhoods during 1950s-era “urban renewal” and many other projects in which the rich got richer and the poor got stiffed. As Buckingham’s drama plays out, I was reminded of the eye-opening research done by Charles L. “Chuck” Perdue of the University of Virginia exposing how so-called hillbillies lost their homes in the 1930s to pave the way for two government-backed projects in Virginia: the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park. Those Depression-era folks had a thriving society with farms, homes and churches. But they were doomed to be swept away in the name of industrial “progress.”
Today, Dominion Energy and its friends in government dismissively declare that Buckingham’s local “cultural landscape” never even existed.
One hopes that Gov. Ralph Northam (D) will step in and find a way not to repeat the heartless mistakes of our state’s checkered past.
Chip Jones, Henrico, Va.