It was a life-altering, heartbreaking scene: Chiwetel Ejiofor, portraying Solomon Northup in the film 12 Years a Slave, had woken up to find himself imprisoned and set to be sold into slavery. The powerful scene was filmed in Shockoe Bottom, Richmond, Va., a site known for its connection to the slave trade.
But now, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the location is about to be redeveloped and turned into a $56 million baseball stadium and a slavery museum, and the family of Solomon Northup isn’t thrilled about the plan.
“Most people of African descent in North America have had ancestors who came through that area as they were being sold to slave masters in the South,” Northup’s great-great-great-great-granddaughter Linsey Williams told the entertainment site. “I think it’s insensitive and allowing it to become secondary to a ballpark.”
Williams has launched a Change.org petition against the development that calls the plans “a grave disservice to Americans of all creeds and colors. This is our history. It is not a place for parking lots and it is not a place for peanuts and cracker jacks.”
The notorious site once held more than 90 slave dealers, the Reporter notes, and is near slave burial grounds that were discovered three years ago. Those burial sites will not be affected by the development, but several slave-trading areas will be destroyed to make way for the pricey project, which will become the home of the the local minor-league team, the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
Read more at the Hollywood Reporter.