Politician Deloris McQuinn is shining light on slave jails filled with horrors and pains of Virginia’s dark past

Stephen Nartey November 04, 2022
Delegate Deloris McQuinn/Photo credit: Virginia House Democrats

Delores McQuinn, a descendant of enslaved African Americans in Virginia, has been a strong advocate for the rights of the Black community, women’s reproductive rights, and economic improvement in marginalized societies.

She was elected into office to represent the 70th district in the Virginia General Assembly in 2009 and to date has used her influence to give voice to distressed communities and demand equal pay for equal work.

As a local minister and a community leader, McQuinn has been at the forefront of raising substantial funds to back pro-choice Democratic women. She has so far raised $500 million to support such endeavors making her a strong pillar for women in politics, according to Emily’s List.

Virginia’s Richmond community, where Delegate Delores served on its City Council Slave Trail Commission for years, is the biggest hub to have received more slaves in the United States. Its dark past is connected to Shockoe Bottom, which was feared by an enslaved person who was sent there because of the treatment at jail sites, gallows and auction houses.

An archaeological discovery in 2008 revealed the presence of the Lumpkin Jail and other slave jail sites where the enslaved were sold to other buyers. The Lumpkin Jail, according to Richmond magazine, was once known as the Devil’s half acre because of its dehumanizing conditions and its tendency to strip the essence of dignity from any slave.

The swampy nature of its environment had a psychological impact on the enslaved people and the torturing regime in place could break even the toughest slave. Following its discovery, Delegate Delores has been the motivating force for a slavery museum to be built at the site.

She was the brain behind the establishment of the Richmond Slave trail which gives descendants of America’s enslaved and other Africans a tour of Manchester Docks to slave trading sites in the community. As the Richmond City Council Slave Trail Commission followed up on the leads at Shockoe Bottom, it learned of the atrocities that were committed by slaveholders and the relics it left in its path.

Historical records speak of the stark pain and torture visited on the enslaved people brought to Shockoe Bottom. It is fueled by greed on the part of slaveholders and, has made the place a sanctuary where people visit to remember their ancestors and offer prayers for their tarried souls.

This reality gave birth to the idea of erecting the historical site because of Richmond community’s role in the slave trade. There is the optimism of digging out more on the businesses that rode on the back of the slave trade in the city including the widespread use of hundreds of thousands of enslaved people as domestic slaves.

It is against this backdrop that Delegate Delores was committed to raising $200 million dollars for the construction of a slavery museum that will honor the memory of the hundreds of thousands of slaves who endured the horror and barbaric treatment at Richmond city.

Delegate Delores pointed out that there is a large market and cravings by the people to learn and know their past and what experiences their ancestors passed through in the hands of slave owners. That is why the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. attracts many tourists who visit there to learn about black history.

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