A stolen slave auction plaque shook Charlottesville. But the confession was the real shock.Breaking News
tags: slavery, Charlottesville, monuments
The humble sign in the sidewalk had often gone unnoticed, overshadowed by the giant Confederate statues towering over it in Charlottesville’s central Court Square.
But Thursday, the small plaque marking a century of slave auctions suddenly went missing, stirring consternation and controversy in a city already struggling with its history.
“It was disturbing,” said Jalane Schmidt, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia. “Although this slave auction plaque was so small and set in the ground and you could walk over it, it was the only thing we had to commemorate the slaves whose lives were torn apart there.”
Schmidt, who has advocated for the removal of Charlottesville’s Confederate statues, initially worried that the plaque had been taken to protest a proposed law that would allow cities in Virginia to remove offensive monuments.
In an interview with a local news website, a 74-year-old amateur historian named Richard Allan admitted that he’d taken the plaque — but not for the reasons some assumed.
Allan said he removed the plaque because he thought slaves and their descendants deserved a more prominent memorial.