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Slave Auction Block
It is often said that the City of Fredericksburg is a microcosm of the American story, the good and bad.  The City has an exceptional record and reputation in working through the most challenging chapters in our American history, especially in the later parts of the 20th Century.  Most often we have proven to be a model for citizen engagement, civil discourse, and a place where the competition of ideas is embraced - and becomes the precursor to action.

There is not perfect certainty as to the history of the stone that we refer to as the slave auction block, and this must be acknowledged from the start. In 2010, John Hennessy, Chief Historian of the Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania National Military Park, published a three-part article (see below) that explores the known history of this “block of stone,” which is generally regarded as authoritative from a historical standpoint.

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Today, the block remains at the corner of William and Charles Streets, a busy downtown commercial corner. Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc., installed a small, ground level, bronze plaque in 1984, reading: “AUCTION BLOCK, Fredericksburg’s Principal Auction Site in Pre-Civil War Days for Slaves and Property.”

With City Council’s mission statement at the forefront, Sharing Our Past, Embracing Our Future, City Council wants to ensure that the decision-making process for the slave auction block location takes place within the larger context of a community dialogue about race, history, and memory. This community dialogue has already begun, and it should continue, with leadership from the local religious community, business community, historians, academic institutions, and the local Black community and institutions. City Council members wish to support this larger conversation and to participate in it.

Online input was gathered on two options on the future of the slave auction block - for it to remain in place option A, or for it to be removed, option B.  Input and comments were accepted September 13  through September 25, here is a summary of the responses to the questions.  Public Comment Summary

Council held a public forum on Saturday, September 23 for citizens to speak about the two options. Twenty-six citizens spoke at the forum. Approximately 100 people attended.

On September 26, Council voted to keep the slave block at its current location, by adopting option A,  more information will be forthcoming in the near future.