Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground is one of the largest cemeteries for enslaved people in America. Established in 1816 and closed in 1879, it was Richmond’s second African burial ground that interred both free and enslaved people of color.
Shockoe has been under threat many times throughout its history, its current threat is the DC2RVA project. DC2RVA involves constructing a segment of High-Speed Rail that will be included as a part of a larger initiative to have high-speed intercity railways from D.C. to North Carolina. The Richmond railway was planned to be built through Shockoe, but the federal government has reopened a historic review of this project.
The initial Section 106 outcome was in July 2019, in which the Memorandum of Agreement revealed that 21 Virginia properties would be adversely affected. However, Shockoe did not “make the cut” as its importance was dismissed. In 2022, the Memorandum was amended twice due to Shockoe being acquired by the City of Richmond and its listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
As of today, the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority’s goal is to avoid the cemetery completely with the DC2RVA project, since it would be adversely affected by the project.
This case displays the way Section 106 can help to mitigate adverse effects through its ability to revise the outcome, the outcome being a Memorandum of Agreement.