Controversy Over Slave Cemetery on Land Owned by Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond bought a parking lot in a downtown area last February for $3 million. The university knew that the site was close to a 250-year-old cemetery which was used for the burial of slaves. The cemetery was used as late as 1816.

The university has agreed to donate a small piece of the parking lot for a memorial. But some in the African-American community are calling for the entire parking lot to be preserved for a memorial. There is a great deal of uncertainty of the boundaries of what was called the “Burial Ground for Negroes.” Some historians believe that the cemetery is not only near the parking lot but might extend into much of the property purchased by the university. The university has said that it would sell the property to a group that wants to preserve the site for a memorial but that it must recover the $3 million that it paid for the property.