- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2017

The city of Fredericksburg, Va., is asking the public to weigh in online to help determine the fate of an auction block that was used for the selling of slaves.

The controversial stone pillar stands at a downtown city corner and bears a plaque which notes its significance. It’s come under fire this summer as other cities have debated the fate of Confederate war memorials.

“With City Council’s mission statement at the forefront, Sharing Our Past, Embracing Our Future, City Council wants to ensure that the decision-making process for the slave auction block location takes place within the larger context of a community dialogue about race, history, and memory,” reads a page on the city’s official website.

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The same page gives visitors a survey link where they can weigh in with their thoughts and provides three options, as follows:

  • “Keep the slave auction block in its current location, but use the existing right-of-way to build a more prominent public space that buffers the encounter and places the artifact in content, view rendering. This option envisions interpretive panels, protective measures, and a better design for pedestrian flow.”
  • “Replace the auction block with a historic marker and directions to its new location, likely the Fredericksburg Area Museum. FAM is preparing a permanent exhibit that tells the story of the lives of the working people of Fredericksburg.”
  • “Neither of the above options.”

According to Fredericksburg’s website, the city council will also hold a public meeting to solicit testimony from city residents. The date and time for the meeting will be posted online on Sept. 18.

D.C.’s WTOP Radio reported Friday that the city started the online survey after a city councilman said he had witnessed some young men making light of the buying and selling of other human beings at the auction-block site.

“There was some guys out there that did a mock auction on that block,” city Councilman Charlie Frye said, reported WTOP. “Long story short, it was three white guys and one black guy. And the black guy stood around the block and the other guys did a mock auction. One of them yelled ‘Sold, sold, sold!’

“To walk down a street and you come across that — things like that are usually in a museum or something like that. You can read the story, you can touch it,” said Mr. Frye, who is black. “If it causes pain, if it takes your breath away — this is not an action movie. If you want that, go to the movies. Pay for it and sit down and watch the movie. That’s my opinion and I can only speak for myself.”

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