‘Slave Trail Commission became a sham’

10/21/2021, noon
Re “Defunct: Richmond Slave Trail Com- mission, formed in 1998 by City Council to advocate for educating people about the ...

Re “Defunct: Richmond Slave Trail Commission, formed in 1998 by City Council to advocate for educating people about the enslaved and the city’s long and sordid history with slavery, no longer exists,” Free Press Oct. 14-16 edition:

The title of the recent article about the Slave Trail Commission said it all in one word: “Defunct.”

The commission had long become defunct, legally and morally. Over an extended period of time, three people — Delegate Delores McQuinn, Richmond City Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille and the Rev. Ben Campbell — worked to hijack an important public body.

As is clear from City of Richmond records, the Slave Trail Commission was not a properly constituted public body and it failed to follow state and local provisions relating to the conduct of public business.

The Slave Trail Commission was created in 1998 as a representative body with 17 members. It ended with the three people holding power and not letting go. Through the years, members walked away from the commission with disgust and they weren’t replaced. Members even died and were not replaced. It did not matter to the three people. It served a purpose.

In background reading, I came across a quote from Rev. Campbell saying that the irregularities and failures of the Slave Trail Commission were due to “dysfunction.” If so, it was well-orchestrated dysfunction. It appears to have been a calculated way for the three people to get outsized influence in the planning and financing of a major city undertaking, such as the Lumpkin’s Jail/Slave Trail site and Devil’s Half Acre project.

I can imagine that people may say now that Delegate McQuinn, Councilwoman Newbille and Rev. Campbell are good people who were just trying to do good work.

Maybe we should thank them for their service? No.

Under their control, the Slave Trail Commission became a sham. What they did was shameless.