History

Creative Commons

A two-day teacher institute at the Library of Virginia has provided educators with the opportunity to advance their knowledge about the post-Civil War era-especially how the Commonwealth was transformed by the emancipation of slaves and Reconstruction. One major focus was on the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution-and their significant legacy. 

The “Reconstruction Amendments” sought to eliminate vestiges of the defeated system. The Library’s Public Services and Outreach Director, Greg Kimball, says that began with the 13th Amendment to outlaw slavery.

It’s been more than 20 years since construction workers at Virginia Commonwealth University unearthed the remains of about fifty people in an old well near the Medical College of Virginia.  Historians believe they were the bones of former slaves, whose bodies were stolen from local cemeteries for dissection by medical students. 

Steve Helber/AP via NPR

On a warm spring night, more than 150 people gathered in Shockoe Bottom, a name taken from the Native American word for a site in Richmond.

This part of town, bounded by I-95 and bisected by railroad lines, was central to a city that prospered from the slave trade.

"The best guesstimate is several hundred thousand people were sold out of Shockoe Bottom," says Phil Wilayto, a leader of the grassroots movement to establish a memorial park here. "Probably the majority of African-Americans today could trace some ancestry to this small piece of land."

Tale of Two Flags: Art Sparks Dialogue

Aug 7, 2015
Artist Sonya Clark

At the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, an exhibit called “Posing Beauty” is in its final week.The show features a piece by an African American depicting the confederate and American flags woven in African hair.

Each year, for over a decade, about 30,000 Virginia kids were bused to Richmond’s museum district for a visit to the Story of Virginia, an exhibit featuring the usual portraits and artifacts.  Last year, the Virginia Historical Society closed the show and began a $20 million renovation, creating a modern new museum and a whole new experience for those interested in Virginia’s past. 

Pages