Regarding the July 10 editorial “A new direction for Monument Avenue”:
We agree the time has come for Richmond to ensure that its Confederate monuments are “contextualized thoughtfully,” but simply adding signs on Monument Avenue does not go far enough. For Richmond to truly come to terms with its full and complicated history, the city should also adopt the community-generated concept for a nine-acre memorial park in Shockoe Bottom, once a center of the domestic slave trade.
As noted by the Monument Avenue Commission in its recent report, the memorialization and historic interpretation of Shockoe Bottom are essential to an honest reckoning with the blunt reality of Richmond’s difficult past. The Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park plan would acknowledge the integral role of slavery in our history and recognize its continuing modern-day impacts. It would promote interactive and constructive dialogue for all people and provide areas for contemplation, arts and cultural expression, and equitable economic development.
As such, we strongly urge Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) to adopt the plan and transform the blighted parking lots that conceal the remains of Richmond’s slave market into a site of conscience. By reckoning with the impacts and legacy of chattel slavery at Shockoe Bottom, the former capital of the Confederacy can lead the nation in pursuing truth, reconciliation and justice.
Stephanie K. Meeks, Washington
The writer is president and chief executive of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.