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Delegate Bob Marshall teams up with former Democratic Chair to get slave graves maintained

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — CBS 6 political reporter Joe St. George has learned Republican Delegate Bob Marshall will introduce a bill Monday that would require the Commonwealth of Virginia to maintain slave gravesites.

Currently, the Commonwealth maintains the graves of many former Civil War soldiers, but not slaves.

“I know this bill is late,” Marshall said Sunday. “But a late idea doesn’t mean it is a bad idea.”

Marshall said it would be left to the governor to determine how much funds would be needed each year.

“I expect this to get support,” Marshall said.

Teaming up with the longtime conservative, is an unlikely Virginia politico. Former Virginia Democratic party chair Paul Goldman is encouraging Democrats to back the matter.

“The state treated them like property when they were alive. It is important for us to right this wrong as best we can now, and make they get the respect they deserve and be treated for the rest of time as we would expect ourselves to be treated, as people,” Goldman said.

Tuesday is “crossover” day in the General Assembly.

The bill would not require local matching funds under current language. Along with the funds, an advisory commission would be created to monitor which sites would be taken care of.

Below is language from the bill.

The Advisory Commission to Protect Slave Cemeteries and Graves (the Commission), is established as an advisory commission, within the meaning of § 2.2-2100, in the executive branch of state government. The purpose of the Commission shall be to develop a list of memorial associations that are responsible or have taken responsibility for the care of the graves of Virginians held as slaves at the time of their deaths or cemeteries containing such graves. The Commission shall consist of 11 members as follows: two members of the House of Delegates to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates; two members of the Senate of Virginia to be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules; and seven nonlegislative citizen members to be appointed by the Governor. Legislative members shall serve terms coincident with their terms of office or until their successors shall qualify. Nonlegislative citizen members shall serve for terms of four years. Staff support for the Commission shall be provided by the Department.


  • Anne Evans

    THIS BILL IS NEEDED! I would like to add – None of our concerns were honored or respected. The descendants requested that the Historical Human Remains Detection (HHRD) canines – be allowed to search the site – before construction work was started. We were hoping to find more slave graves and the graves/cemetery belonging to the FEARN family. Thomas Fearn served in the American Revolution and his burial grounds should be protected also. The officials refused our request for the search.

    The site was owned over the years by Thomas Fearn, Dr. James Doddridge Patton, Francis Williams, John W. Brodnax and Azariah Graves Walters. These families were well known and have many connections throughout VA. Thomas Fearn’s grandson, John Williams Walker Fearn (Jurist and Diplomat), and other family members are buried in the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

    The five plantation owners, acquired hundreds of slaves (many documents exist) and the thousands of FEARN PLANTATION’S slave descendants, now living in America, perhaps have little knowledge of the plight of this slave cemetery. We have found a few known FEARN slave descendants – but the officials were not interested in their concerns either or locating other descendants.

    The descendants and advocates requested that a Virginia Historical Highway Marker application be approved by the Danville officials – but they turned down our request. The officials stated our request would only be approved AFTER – their development plans for the site were approved by the State and National officials. So our history is being held hostage. Will the Chinese companies care about our family’s history, slave history, or Virginia’s history?

    The FEARN PLANTATION Slave Cemetery is listed with Remembering Slavery, Resistance, and Freedom project –

    The FEARN PLANTATION site and slave cemetery were listed on Preservation Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Sites 2013.

    Last Year was 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation – but the officials had no time or interest in protecting and preserving the historical ruins and slave cemetery on the FEARN PLANTATION.

    Many other things could be said about this important historical site and their families. Please do not let this happen to any other families. Thanks!

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