Richmond African Burial Ground II, was originally owned and operated by the City of Richmond. Over the years, it has been referred to by different names including: “Potters Field”; “Coloured Peoples Burying Ground”; and “African Burying Ground”. It is located at the intersection of 5th and Hospital Streets in Richmond’s Northside.
This burial ground originally consisted of two (2) acres, one (1) acre for Free People of Color and one (1) acre for Enslaved people.
Today, there is no visible sign that at least 25,000 people of African descent were interred in this burial ground Black people have suffered and continue to suffer neglect, indifference and outright hostility. As evidence of Richmond’s negative animus is that the city sold and gifted to the Hebrew Cemetery several acres of the burial ground where Black people were buried or were going to be buried. The transfer either by gift or sale of large portions of Burial Ground II to the Hebrew Cemetery was done over the vigorous objections of Black people. Today, the Hebrew Cemetery owns or exerts ownership control of the African Burial Ground II on the north and south sides of Hospital Street.
During much of its history, the Burial Ground was overseen by a standing Richmond City Council committee, the Shockoe Hill Burying Ground Committee. The superintendent of the burial ground supervised both white and Black burials and made regular reports to the City Council. This was an elected position.
There are a number of encroachments on this Burial Ground including railroad tracks built on the Burial Ground at its eastern boundary line where Black people were buried. Currently running on these tracts are freight and passenger trains.
Also encroaching on the burial ground are footings and the pillars of the Shockoe Valley Bridge which on which east and westbound traffic lanes of Interstate 64 currently rest. The fact that this is a Burial Ground was totally ignored when the construction of this bridge took place. There is currently a planned widening of Interstate 64 which will require additional footings and pillars to allow for increased traffic flow which will also rest on the Burial Ground.
The Burial Ground faces further possible encroachment by a proposed High-Speed Rail from Washington DC to Richmond. Tracks for this project slated for construction on the Burial Ground. This will also have a negative impact on the Burial Ground.
The photographs below show the encroachments on part of the Burial Ground including an abandon service station. Note the absence of any markers, gravestones or signage indicating that this is a burial ground which demonstrates the disrespect and importance of those buried there.