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Family of ’12 Years A Slave’ author opposes Shockoe baseball stadium

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - A descendant of former slave Solomon Northup, whose memoir was brought to the big screen in “12 Years A Slave," is speaking out against Mayor Dwight Jones’ economic development proposal to build a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom.

Linsey Williams is the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Northup.

She is petitioning Mayor Jones to end the baseball plan, in part, because she does not want a baseball stadium built on the site where Northup is believed to have spent the night, in William Goodwin's slave pen.

“The construction of a baseball stadium here will rob people of the opportunity to have this deep but unexplainable connection with their ancestors,” Williams wrote on her blog.

According to Northup’s book, he spent the night in a slave jail in Shockoe Bottom in the spring of 1841.

Historians believe that jail site falls in the area where the proposed baseball stadium would be built.

Activist Ana Edwards is the Chair of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project and opposes the baseball stadium plan.

She told CBS 6 Williams involvement will help her cause.

“Sometimes it’s very difficult for us to see what’s in our own backyard, and it takes people from the outside pointing it out,” Williams said.

SHOCKOE SLAVE SITEYet Delegate Delores McQuinn, who chairs the Richmond City Council Slave Trail Commission, supports the mayor’s plan and said she’s not sure Williams has enough information yet.

“I think some of her information needs to be corrected,” McQuinn said.

McQuinn said the stadium development will not touch the vast majority of the slavery sites, and, instead, will help to preserve them.

“There’s one, maybe one place that may be in the footprint of the stadium, but other than that, that’s all,” McQuinn said.


Despite being on opposite sides, both women hope Northup’s legacy ensures Shockoe Bottom’s slavery history is preserved.

“Why don’t we get together and do this better?” Edwards said.

“Help us to tell the story, help us to build these monuments to slavery to honor our ancestors,” McQuinn said.

Williams will be in Richmond on April 3 for “Liberation Day 2014.”

Organizers said the event will commemorate the 149th anniversary of the Liberation of Richmond by Union troops.

Williams will read Solomon Northup’s account of his night spent in a slave jail in Shockoe Bottom.


  • airjackie

    With all due respect to Ms. Williams America would never had known of Solomon Northup had his book not been re-released 150 years after it was first released. Had there not been a movie his name was lost as millions of other slaves. America doesn’t honor slaves. Now many Americans are honored but Solomon is a reminder of what some in America are trying to change. Today people like to say slaves were employees with benefits an 7 hour work days with weekends off.

    • manalishi

      “Today people like to say slaves were employees with benefits an 7 hour work days with weekends off.” You were on a passionate roll with good script until your inner moonbat went on auto pilot.

    • LetsDoBetter

      When people say no one would have know him unless the movie (or book re-release) happened, that is exactly right but what does that mean? You should ignore the history because no one would have known? We now know, so let’s do better and stop ignoring it. I also think another point is being missed, it is not just about Solomon Northup. There are millions of Americans who have had ancestors come through Shockoe Bottom whose stories have not been told. This family just happens to be one that the media cares about right now because of the movie. The history of other slaves who have spent time there is just as important. I agree with Ana Edwards. Let’s just do this better.

  • Farid Alan Schintzius

    from 6:00pm until 7:30pm at the Site of Lumpkin’s Jail, 15th & East Grace streets in Shockoe Bottom,in downtown Richmond

    A Commemoration & Celebration of the 149th Anniversary of the Liberation of Richmond by Union troops led by Black soldiers, ending 200 Years of Slavery in the City

    Recitation of eyewitness accounts of the liberation of Richmond and the tearing open of Lumpkin’s Jail.

    Historical overview of slavery and the slave trade in Richmond.

    Tour of slave-trade sites in the footprint of the proposed baseball stadium by Richmond historian Elizabeth Kambourian.

    Fredericksburg resident Linsey Williams, a direct descendant of “Twelve Years a Slave” author Solomon Northup, will read an account by her ancestor of the night he spent in a Shockoe Bottom slave jail – which was located within the footprint of the proposed stadium.

  • iatoli

    This is the sanctioned, will, intent purpose and party agenda to keep the cauldron stirred, keep the fires burning, raise and praise racial division, discontent, anger and hate. It is used as a tool, weapon, maneuver, and tactic of party for party to aid, assist, and cause their purpose of their rise to full power and control. A decisive, strategic,
    arms and army for revolution to martial law to all power. Media is their fully complicit, compliant propagandizing instrument.
    The Rise & Fall of the Once Greatest Nation by insurgency and
    insurrection from within.
    The anchestors don’t even recognize that they are being used and abuse, as simple, easy tools, by the party, the party rhetoric, and have not flourished in the past six years.
    Their Mayor is buring his candle at both ends; welfaring his Party
    Rich to more enrichments; using the baited hook of the Slavery
    Museum in front of people that look like him.
    …Never owned a slave, never had a voice in any the decisions made,
    but very tired of still Paying the Price hundred of years later; noting
    ALL the local, state and federal Government Programs have obviously FAILED. Continuous, non-stop emotionalized, propagandized, blackmail, extortion, and targeting has worn to a frazzled thin fragment.

    The Great HOPE that CHANGED All things for the Better:
    Domestic Prosperity & Tranquility, World-Wide Peace, ObamaCares.

  • Glen Allen

    “McQuinn said the stadium development will not touch the vast majority of the slavery sites” – This woman just plain does not get it, the poor thing.

    The area has an enormous story to tell, and should be developed with great thought to not only telling the story, but to capitalize on the story. A baseball stadium does not follow with the historic theme. The Boulevard is already an area dedicated to sports, and more could be added there, keeping it all together.

    Just because someone wants to develop an area (the Bottom), does not make it a good idea nor does it make naysayers out of those that would prefer to wait for a better idea, or an idea that the community at large can discuss and decide upon.

  • A.

    I read all of these comments and cant help but wonder if they would be different if it were you in those cells being whipped and raped and reminded every single day that your color is nothing other than an invitation to beat you, to remind you that your skin and flesh is nothing more than property. I cant help but wonder if you’d be any different than those white men who take pride in possessing bodies. Your comments are ignorant. Your skin was not harmed, your experience
    isn’t tainted. Do yourself a favor and shut. the hell. up.

    • manalishi

      Race bait. I cannot relate to any aspect of slavery or the democrats that owned them, punished them, or abused them. If you can,,, then your either promoting the current plantation politics, or you must be over 150 years old. Which is it?

    • athynz

      Would YOUR story be any different if my skin was harmed, if my ancestors were kept in cells and raped each day due to the color of their skin? And here’s something to blow your mind – black people were not the only ones kept as slaves. White people were slaves as well. Not in as great of numbers and perhaps not treated quite as badly but there were white slaves. And the black slaves – they were sold by their black countrymen in Africa! This – as tragic it was – happened in the past. And it’s people like you who keep dredging this up that keep race relations tense – it’s like you are trying to reopen old wounds and not letting them heal. Why is that? Why do you want to keep these old wounds from healing?

  • Kathryn Leighton

    I really wish people would stop living in the past. Luckily the better side will win either way.

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