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Governor to ask for $11M for proposed Richmond slave history site

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A proposed $11 million package that would assist the city in projects to commemorate the history of the slave trade in Richmond was announced by the governor's office on Thursday morning, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Governor Bob McDonnell will be submitting his final two-year budget on Monday. In it he will propose $5 million for the planning, design and construction of the Pavilion at Lumpkin's Jail, $1 million for improvements to the Richmond Slave Trail and $5 million for the planning, design and construction of a slavery museum.

Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones and city officials have been pressing for the creation of a slave heritage site as part of a rehabilitation project for the Shockoe Bottom area of the city, anchored by a new baseball stadium.

The slave heritage site is being touted as a "dramatic, inter-active memorial," and will include Lumpkin's Jail and the African Burial Ground. There is also the slavery museum, championed by former Governor L. Douglas Wilder.

Even though Wilder has met with Jones and McDonnell in discussions about the slavery museum, the museum is not part of the "heritage site" proposed by the mayor. Jones and Del. Delores I. McQuinn, D-Richmond, who chairs the city Slave Trail Commission, want to eventually add a slavery museum to the site, with help from the state.

As a part of the governor's proposal, the city would have to provide matching funds of $5 million for the same purposes. The city would also have to provide the appropriate real estate before getting the funding.

Besides the obvious historical significance of the proposed "heritage site," McDonnell sees the site as helping to increase tourism in the area, something he has promoted during his term as governor. Tourism has increased every year under McDonnell's watch, showing a total revenue increase of 12.3 percent since 2010.

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