The Associated Press is reporting that “Twelve Years a Slave” actress Lupita Nyong’o is opposing the building of a minor league baseball stadium in what was once the center of Richmond, Virginia’s flourishing slave trade.
Nyong’o has personally appealed to Richmond’s mayor Dwight C. Jones in an attempt to get Jones to withdraw his support of the stadium that is the focal point of an economic development project.
In a letter to Jones dated 0ct. 19, Nyong’o wrote:
“Evidence of America’s slave history simply must be preserved, as the legacy of slavery affects all American people. The tactic of the enslaver was to systematically erase all memory of the African’s past; let us not repeat this ill by contributing to the erasure of his past in America too. Though this history is ugly and unjust, Shockoe Bottom is a site of conscience, a place where we can bear witness to the human rights abuses of slavery, learn from the lessons of history, and spark a conscience in people so that they can choose the actions that promote justice and lasting peace today”
“And yet you are no stranger to the cause for education and the advancement of society through knowledge. On top of being an accomplished scholar yourself, during your term as mayor, you have seen to the construction of four schools in Richmond. I am confident that these schools are intended to engage students in understanding and interpreting our shared history, stimulating their minds about social issues that concern them, and promoting humanitarian values. A preserved Shockoe Bottom can be an integral part of these students’ unique educational experience.”
The stadium is set to be placed in Richmond’s oldest neighborhood Shockoe Bottom. It is estimated that some 300,000 men, women, and children were jailed, bought, and sold in Shockoe Bottom and shipped throughout the Southern states in the years leading up to the Civil War
Nyong’o role in “Twelve Years a Slave” has given her a personal connection to Shockoe Bottom. The author writes:
“The celebrated film depicts the life of Solomon Northrup, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. He is initially held in a Shockoe Bottom jail where slaves were chained before they were sold to growers in the Deep South.”
Nyongo is seeking to have Shockoe Bottom’s history acknowledged and respected so that physical records of African American history are not wiped out.
Read more at The Associated Press.