Congress abolished the African slave trade in 1808. But while international slave trade was illegal, it made way for an increased domestic trade, where Richmond was one of the largest hubs for the sale and transfer of enslaved African people in the country. But the places where families were separated and slaves were traded so many years ago often go unnoticed by residents and visitors to Richmond, who walk and drive past the sites on a daily basis today. But a new virtual tour is determined to ensure that history lives on.
Hidden in Plain Site is a guided virtual tour of Richmond, Virginia, that focuses on some of the most important but often overlooked sites around the city that don’t have monuments or statues that make them stand out. Created by J. Dontrese Brown, Dean Browell, and David Waltenbaugh, the nearly 20-minute interactive presentation takes you to sites that tell important stories of Black history in Richmond. Viewers can experience the tour on their computer, mobile device, or with virtual reality headsets.
One of the first stops on the tour is a 360-degree view of the location that once held Lumpkin’s Jail, also known as the Devil’s Half Acre. The site, owned by Robert Lumpkin, contained lodging for slave traders, as well as an auction house where slaves were bought and sold. Viewers also make their way to Richmond’s African Burial Ground, considered one of the oldest urban cemetery for free and enslaved Blacks.
George Floyd’s 2020 murder inspired the group to launch the self-funded project. And J. Dontrese Brown hopes those who experience the HiPS tour will be encouraged to come to Richmond and see the sites in person. “We wanted to shine light in the conversation around social justice, the energy of our city and our community and our nation is coming together for equality, social justice, equity, and just doing what’s right. That will leave you so inspired to actually visit these sites themselves,” he said.