Reclaiming Our Sacred Ground


Originally published in the Autumn 2019 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 60, printed October 28. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Autumn 2019 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post. For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

The night was chilly and the forecast was for possible showers, but more than 50 people still showed up to honor the memory of Gabriel, the Richmond revolutionary who led a massive effort to end slavery in Virginia and was executed on Oct. 10, 1800, at the site of Richmond’s African Burial Ground.

It was the 17th year in a row that the Defenders’ Sacred Ground Project hosted the event.

Queen Nzinga, at left, declares, “This is OUR land, [Mayor] Stoney!” at the 17th annual Gabriel Gathering at Richmond’s African Burial Ground. Looking on is Ana Edwards, chair of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project, and Pamela Bingham, the family historian for descendants of Gabriel. Photo by Phil Wilayto.

Speaking at the gathering were Gabriel descendant and family historian Pamela Bingham; longtime Richmond activist Queen Nzinga; prisoner advocate Richard Walker; Virginia Defender editor Phil Wilayto; and Ana Edwards, chair of the Sacred Ground Project.

Cultural performances were presented by Nickey McMullen and Joseph S.H. Rogers.

The event was co-chaired by Lynetta Thompson and the Rev. Rodney Hunter.

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