Remembering Slavery Alongside Confederate Heritage in Richmond
While the Virginia Flaggers have made a name for themselves for their insistence that a Confederate flag fly on the grounds of the Soldiers’ Home, along the Boulevard in Richmond, others have also taken an interest in the history of the site. A student from the Agua Dulce Dance Theater recently performed an interpretive dance in front of the Robinson House to explore its connection to the history of slavery.
The history and repercussions of slavery are very palpable in Richmond, VA. It seems as if just the smallest scratching of the surface opens up doors to this difficult legacy. Recent archeological excavations in the city have unearthed a slave jail and a burial ground. There are currently heated city-wide debates about whether these sites should be preserved for their historical significance or if a new baseball stadium should be built on the sites…
I am interested in exploring layers of memory, calling forth through my imagination people who may have lived in this specific place—particularly slaves. In this instance, I am exploring a “return,” a “remembering” of place, a struggle with both memory and reality, an exploration of what may have never been said, what could be said today. The impossibility of entering the house seems significant for my piece.
The VMFA is planning to turn the home into a visitor center that will include exhibits related to its connection to Richmond banker, Anthony Robinson Jr., as well as its use as part of the R. E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Soldiers’ Home. The home is currently closed to the general public.