Slave Auction Block Relocation
The Beginning of an Inclusive Reinterpretation of Our History
“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King
Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote embodies why our community has engaged in important conversations over the past several years to arrive where we are today. Today, we stand together in taking the first step to ensuring our community’s story is told through a more inclusive lens.
As a community, we understand that history has been told through the view of only a few and we carry the responsibility of sharing the full story, one that is representative of all voices in our history.
The 1,200-pound Slave Auction Block, which once sat at the corner of Charles Street and William Street, was removed on June 5, 2020. Its original location was recognized in an October moment of recognition that set forth the first step in the City’s plan to begin on a purposeful journey to tell more of our story. This is one example of how we are striving to present important parts of our full history in a respectful and complete manner that everyone can understand and learn from.
Removal of the Slave Auction Block on June 5, 2020.
Wayside panel installed in October 2020.
A Community Coming Together
This journey that brought the City of Fredericksburg to the united decision to relocate the Slave Auction block included nearly three years of intense discussions, public forums, and listening to the many views of those in our community.
Sharing Our Past, Embracing the Future.
City Council's Vision Statement for Fredericksburg conveys the future that we aspire to and guided us to this decision. The people of Fredericksburg are building a 21st Century urban center on the foundation of this historic City at the fall line of the Rappahannock River. Fredericksburg is the hub of regional economic activity, a city with a multicultural population, and a thriving cultural scene, a place that works for everyone, a community where the people are writing the next chapters of Fredericksburg’s history.
This, combined with the City’s history of successfully and peacefully working through difficult issues, including those related to race, led us to our commitment to greater equitable change.
A Process of Change
The Slave Auction block has been relocated to the Fredericksburg Area Museum, where a team of expert interpreters are leading a series of efforts to bring a reinterpretation to life that is reflective of a more diverse agency and voice. This process is expected to occur over several months, which will include community engagement and transparency in the process.
As progress is made on their efforts, updates will be shared.
Today, a wayside exhibit marks the site of the original location of the Slave Auction Block to appropriately share the history of the physical site to encourage education, learning and important progress. The wayside exhibit will be replaced by a permanent interpretation of the corner, which will take one or two years to design and install. Updates on the interpretation and opportunities for community engagement will be shared in the coming months.
A Grateful City
Our community has led our City to be more purposeful in decisions, to lead future generations to take pride in engaging in important conversations that guide us to a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse place for all. The City of Fredericksburg is grateful to all who have contributed and continue to contribute to this process and the many important steps ahead.