A Virginia city plans changes to its display of a historical artifact after a group of men used it to conduct a mock slave auction.
Chuck Frye, a city councilor in Fredericksburg, called for the auction block’s removal last month when three white men stood at the historical site and pretended to auction off a black friend following an Aug. 20 prayer vigil at the site, reported WTOP-TV.
“There was some guys out there that did a mock auction on that block,” Frye told the TV station. “Long story short, it was three white guys and one black guy, and the black guy stood around the block and the other guys did a mock auction. One of them yelled ‘Sold, sold, sold!’”
He said the sight disgusted him, especially coming after a peaceful protest one week after a violent white supremacist rally in nearby Charlottesville.
“If that’s what we have going on in the city of Fredericksburg based on the location of the block, the fact you can do whatever you want to do at the block — I’m speaking for myself — if that’s what happens, get it out of here,” Frye said.
City officials are considering three options for the block, which sits at the corner of William and Charles streets with a small plaque explaining its history.
“Things like that are usually in a museum or something like that,” Frye said. “You can read the story, you can touch it. If it causes pain, if it takes your breath away — this is not an action movie. If you want that, go to the movies. Pay for it and sit down and watch the movie. That’s my opinion and I can only speak for myself.
The city’s chief historian has found at least nine people were sold as servants in front of a building that still stands on the site, while records show another 17 “valuable slaves” for sale there.
The city may keep the block in place, but with improved public facilities to explain its history and improve traffic flow.
The block could also be moved to another location, most likely a local museum, with a historical marker left in its place.
The city could also do nothing, and leave the small stone block where it’s stood since before the Civil War.