Richmond couple reflects on 20 years leading the fight to memorialize Shockoe Bottom

Phil Wilayto and Ana Edwards pose with a piece of the asphalt that was once a parking lot over the burial ground in Shockoe Bottom. (Credit: Phil Wilayto & Ana Edwards)

Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom was once the epicenter of the Virginia slave trade, the second largest site of human trafficking in North America.

Experts estimate the majority of Black Americans can trace their ancestry to this spot.

Today politicians and local leaders have thrown their support behind a memorial park and museum here. But two decades ago, this history was buried under a parking lot.

Mallory Noe-Payne caught up with the husband and wife team who have spent 20 years leading the grassroots movement to get this site memorialized.

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