Mayor's Plan: Turn 12 Years a Slave Site Into Stadium
Solomon Northup's family opposes the ballpark plan
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2014 2:20 PM CDT
An opponent of the ball park idea addresses a press conference in front of City Hall in Richmond in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bob Brown)

(Newser) – Solomon Northup, the subject of 12 Years a Slave, was held in a slave jail in Shockoe Bottom, once one of the busiest slave-trading districts in the country ... and now the mayor of Richmond, Va., where the site is located, wants to turn it into a baseball stadium. Descendants of Northup, not surprisingly, oppose the plan. "Most people of African descent in North America have had ancestors who came through that area as they were being sold to slave masters in the South," Northup's great-great-great-great-granddaughter tells the Hollywood Reporter. "I think it's insensitive and allowing it to become secondary to a ballpark."

The site once known as "the Devil's half-acre," which was once home to more than 90 slave dealers and Lumpkin's slave jail, is now just a number of asphalt lots and grasslands near the Shockoe Creek, making it undesirable for construction. Mayor Dwight Jones wants to inject new life into the area, hence the idea for a $56 million park to be used by a local minor league team—and that would require the destruction of dozens of slave-trading sites. A historical researcher points out that artifacts could also be buried on the site. A $5 million slavery museum would also be built nearby, and the slave burial grounds at the site would not be affected. Northup's family has started an online petition, and a protest will be held at the site of the slave jail next month; a decision is expected in May.

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Showing 3 of 26 comments
Mar 28, 2014 2:18 AM CDT
Maybe the panderers at ABC/Disney can turn it into a theme park.
Mar 28, 2014 1:48 AM CDT
Perhaps some of the proceeds from a ballpark could be used to fund the construction of a museum that would highlight the horrors and injustice of slavery. I also find it odd that we can see actual preservation of Nazi atrocities in the form of concentration camps, but we do not have plantations preserved to show the horrors of slavery. Perhaps I am wrong. Maybe there are such locations that I am not aware of, but I feel it is important, historically, to remember the vulgarity of the antebellum south, particularly since the Nazi horrors took place over a small time frame - only 12 years - yet U.S. slavery occurred over a much longer period of time.
Mar 27, 2014 7:59 AM CDT
As someone who lives just outside Richmond, let me assure that this story is barely accurate at best. If you want to look it up you can, I don't have the time or inclination to list all the things that are misleading about this article.