Below: Excerpt from Richmond Times Dispatch -- Published May 25, 2011.....
Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones led a procession to lift hunks of asphalt from a parking lot off East Broad Street, culminating years of struggle to reclaim the site as a burial ground for slaves and free blacks.
"We're here today to begin beautifying this land that it might become a memorial … that we might remember the stony road over which we have come," Jones told a solemn gathering alongside Interstate 95 that included city and state representatives and Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao.
Three contracting companies are scheduled to start work Tuesday to remove 10 inches of asphalt and gravel and convert the 3.4-acre African Burial Ground property into a sod-covered memorial by mid-July.
A portion of the property is believed to contain one of the nation's oldest municipal cemeteries for enslaved and free blacks. The site, used as a burial ground from about 1750 to 1816, has been a parking lot since the 1970s. It was purchased by VCU in 2008.
An archaeologist will be at the site in case any artifacts are unearthed, but Jones said he does not believe it's necessary to pursue soil tests to determine the location of the burial ground. He did not rule out tests but said the resources should be focused on improving the Richmond Slave Trail and planning a slavery museum across Broad Street, near the site of the Lumpkin's slave jail.
"I think that we have enough (documented) history to be very sure that this is a historical spot," he said.
The exact location of the burial ground is not clear, and it might have been disturbed years ago with the construction of I-95, the diversion of Shockoe Creek and other changes to the land, according to state archaeologists and the Slave Trail Commission.