FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — A 176-year-old slave auction block has been removed from a Virginia city’s downtown.
The City of Fredericksburg stated the weathered stone was pulled from the ground in its downtown area early Friday after the removal was delayed for months by lawsuits and the coronavirus pandemic.
“As the only minority on City Council, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders,” Councilor Charlie Frye said. “The people of the City never walked away from the table, never stopped talking to each other. This was huge – and it felt great because I came from ancestors who were never heard.”
Officials said the stone was sprayed with graffiti and chants of “move the block” had erupted during local demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.
A local NAACP chapter called for the block's removal in 2017, and in February, a judge upheld the City Council's vote in favor of removal after two businesses sued to stop it. The block was set to be relocated to the Fredericksburg Area Museum.
It had sat at the corner of William and Charles streets with a small, ground level, bronze plaque reading: "AUCTION BLOCK, Fredericksburg’s Principal Auction Site in Pre-Civil War Days for Slaves and Property."