What were we up to? Stay tuned…and prepare yourself. #MonumentAvenue #WESEEIT
I just want to take a minute to Thank the entire family for “EVERYTHING.” For the love and support of The Cheats Movement Blog, the special projects, the live music events, just EVERYTHING. This has been an amazing year so far and it’s only going to get better this summer. The blog is only a reflection of RVA’s diversity and community. If the community is doing well – if the family is doing well – the blog reflects that. And RVA…We are doing great. I have to blink sometimes and think to myself…is this Richmond.
If you’re working to support RVA’s diversity and community – then you are family. This year alone, I’ve met so many new friends that read The Cheats Movement and it’s awesome, Thank you. And to the readers that have been their since the start…all I can say is, Wow…right. Nothing would be happening if it wasn’t for you. I’m so happy about what’s happening in RVA. And with that said….please believe that I’m still hungry to cover it all. No time for rest…my goal is to have the best blog in Richmond. I’m going back on the grind this summer. Cheats Movement Family Photo Coming Soon! Here is the thing…I’m easy to find. Hit me up: CheatsMWC@gmail.com. Twitter: CheatsMWC Facebook – I’m on. WE SEE IT THIS IS OUR RICHMOND!
Since day one, YFD Clothing has been on the grind. Much love and respect for their hustle. They just released (Part I) of their Summer 2013 release at West Coat Kix (S/O Ollie, Erika, Laci, and Ben). Visit the website and get some of that YFD gear. #WESEEIT More photos on the Cheats Movement Facebook Page. Follow us!
Words and Photos by Cheats
So far, Stone Soul 2013 has to be the best RVA music event of the year. It was a lights out show from top to bottom. A Radio One collaboration between iPower, Kiss FM and Praise, the show featured diversity across urban music like no other event this year. And not only diversity we are talking star power to the max. Heavy hitter in hip hop: B.o.B, French Montana, Yo Gotti, and Future.
B.o.B rocked the stage with crazy energy.
R&B took center stage with Raheem DeVaughn, SWV, BBD, and Fantasia. If you thought acts like SWV, BBD or even Fantasia would be rusty…you were mistaken. They brought their A-games from start to finish and showed why so many fans love their work.
Future was a crowd favorite at Stone Soul 2013.
There were so many highs and not many lows, I will mention only a few:
1. I was skeptical about the venue change from Brown’s Island to the RIR amphitheater bu let me just say this change was the single best change of the event. No need for lawn chairs – the food vendors are a much better walk, and the venue is covered. The stage, sound and security were amazing and it really made for a great day. Not to mention some of the best weather of the year.
2. The show was the smoothest that I have seen in a long time. There were very little delays between acts and when there were delays King Tutt jumped in a DJ’ed to keep the crowd moving. The varies radio host keep it fun and the show rolled on with major act after major act.
3. While the no curse word rule may have stiffed Webby and Yo Gotti, it made the show very family friendly. And I’m glad all of the acts did their best to respect the rule. Great work Webby (I know it was tough).
4. The award for most body guards goes to Yo Gotti. The best part of this is if you know anything about Yo Gotti – you would not mess with Yo Gotti. Yo Gotti is no joke. But nevertheless he had his crew with him.
There were a lot of brothers with CMG shirts…but no one would or should ever mess with Yo Gotti
5. Fantasia is the real deal. Say what you will about American Idol and reality shows, Fantasia is the modern day Patti LaBelle and is well worth the price of admission. She looked and sounded amazing. She was a worthy headliner.
CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL OF THE CHEATS MOVEMENT PHOTOS FROM STONE SOUL 2013!
Thanks to Community Clovia for always show love to the Cheats Movement Blog and RVA. Follow The Cheats Movement of Facebook and Twitter. The most diverse blog in RVA – WE SEE IT.
Congrats to my friend Andrew Cothern. His blog RVA Playlist just celebrated 3 years. His music blog is one of the best in RVA and Andrew has become a major player within the RVA music community. His passion for local music is always on display, his blog covers all genres, and often introduces new bands to RVA. Rightfully so, a large crowd came out Wednesday night to show their support for Andrew’s work. I’m certain he will have many more great years to come. Shout out to Anousheh, Long Arms, Horsehead, and James Ward for keep the crowd moving. CLICK HERE TO VIEW ALL OF THE CHEATS MOVEMENT PHOTOS OF THIS GREAT NIGHT.
Anousheh is quickly becoming one of my favorite bands in RVA.
Andrew with Anousheh
A large crowd came out on a Wednesday night for RVA Playlist
Long Arms ripped the stage. First time hearing them…they killed it.
Andrew with Horsehead
Horsehead closed out the night! CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL OF THE PHOTOS FROM THIS NIGHT
I have to admit, it took me a while to feel comfortable posting about Dominion Riverrock 2013. As you know, one bad actor can ruin an otherwise awesome event. In this case, the “bad actor – clown – hater…etc.” really marred the headlines on an amazing weekend. Most people know this but I have to write, the embarrassment that happened in no way reflects this area, this festival, or the amazing people that worked so hard to make Riverrocks 2013 and awesome weekend. And it was an awesome weekend.
Now what that soapbox speech out of the way, on the the awesomeness of Riverrocks. It was a weekend of great events, food, friends and music. My favorite being Toots and the Maytals (I’m a huge fan), Photosyntheziers (Fam to the core), and the slackline event (I just love it).
Love is the name of the game people. Thanks to everyone that made Riverrock 2013 great.
My brother The Honorable Sleaze had dropped new EP. He teamed up with Graphic Melee for 4 tracks that are a little more “graphic” than some of Sleaze’s previous work. “I speak to a lot of things going on in the RVA scene, you know lackluster lyricism. I just want MCs to spit hard again like they’re hungry for it. I tried to convey that emotion throughout the project. Its definitely on the more braggadocious side of Sleaze,” wrote Sleaze about the new record. Check out the Just Plain Sounds spitta’s new work and download his catalog at the Sleaze bandcamp page.
If you are not reading RVA Playlist these days – you should be. My buddy Andrew Cothren is on a hot streak, his blog is killing it. My homie and fellow music writer Shannon Cleary hit me to Nelly Kate a while back during the Ish Ish release. I became an instant fan of her vibe. Nelly hooked up with the team from Good Day RVA and just release this video. S/O to /Chris from Good Day RVA. I ran into Chris at Riverrocks and he let me know that they are set to release much more this summer. I’m very excited about what Good Day RVA is doing for RVA musicians. WE SEE IT
It was a capacity crowd at Balliceaux last night for the Richmond release of RVA ALL DAY. The fourth album from RVA’s No BS! Brass Band. They are hitting the stage again tonight at The Camel. Make sure you get a copy! #WESEEIT
Normally I have a lot of trouble singling out where to be in RVA; there is just too much going on in the boroughs to name one event. But this weekend is different because Dominion Riverrock is in town. If you’ve never been…I suggest you take the trip to Brown’s Island and bring your camera. River Rocks is a photographers dream. Last year, I was introduced to the slack line (pictured above), taking photos of that competition alone is worth the trip. But there is more – tons of extreme sport competitions, food, and live music. Galactic killed the stage last year…this year it’s the reggae legends Toots and the Maytals headlining the free concert Saturday night. River Rocks starts Friday and runs through Sunday. And I just go word that my family Photosynthesizers will be hitting the stage Sunday. It’s clearly where to be this weekend.
Brand new from the homie Chance Fischer directed by Soul Live Media AKA Smoothmatic AKA Rob Roby. I haven’t posted too much hip hop on the blog recently but I couldn’t let this video slide. Every time I see Chance Fischer on the mic, I am impressed with his ability to draw his audience closer to him and his style. He can do it all: rhyme, write, perform, you name it. And don’t get me started on the body of work Rob Roby is putting together in the RVA hip hop community. He gets the job done. Check out the RVA images in the video. I think shooting at the Cathedral was perfect for Chance. Also the B-Roll shots on Monument Avenue were a great selection for the duo. I hope they continue to work together in the future. There is no telling how far they can push the envelope in RVA’s hip hop community.
The Cheats Movement Blog got some serious love in Style Weekly’s 12th Annual Music Issue. Since I spend most of my time covering music and events, it is very cool to be interviewed and have the blog recognized in this way. I do consider it an honor and motivation to keep the blog going in its current form. I have to take a moment to S/O Andrew Cothern AKA RVA Playlist. Andrew has always giving love to The Cheats Movement Blog from day 1 and being a music blogger himself – he didn’t have to do that. RVA Playlist is one of my favorite music blogs and Andrew is really at the top of his game right now. S/O to Patience Salgado AKA Kindness Girl for the photo used in Style. The multi-talented kindness worker has so much going on – and with that she takes some of the most soulful photos that I have ever seen. I also want to S/O Sounds of RVA and One Way Richmond – I read their blogs as much as I can and it’s very awesome to read their interviews in Style.
The thing about press in general – like everything else in 2013 – it is really about momentum: one day you’re hot – the next day you are not. I understand that Style Weekly or any other “press” type situation may not be there next week let alone next year but that doesn’t mean that the city stops moving forward. The goal is to take in good press – in the spirit that it’s meant to be – and use it to push forward. So the blog moves forward – the grind moves forward – the family moves forward – we are already working on what’s next. To every person that reads the blog and supports what’s happening on the blog and around the city — all I can say is Thank you & of course #WESEEIT!
One of the best bands in RVA is back! S/O to Bar Codez, Sam Reed, and the entire Photosynthesizer’s family (which The Cheats Movement is a proud member). This Saturday night – it’s called LISTEN Vol 1: The Light in Sound. The show is featuring R&B singers Lela Bizz and Anhayla. RSVP HERE on Facebook.
Last Sunday, I stopped by the Silent Music Revival at Gallery 5. The night featured one of my favorite RVA bands: Wolf//Goat; the movie was Charlie Chaplin’s THE KID (1921). It was a great night. Make sure you check out a Silent Music Revival. Jameson Price does such a great job with this event.
I’m so grateful to Kendra for giving me the opportunity to bring The Cheats Movement vibe to Ipanema Cafe last night. A huge thanks to Allen for working with me through all of the planning and S/O to PJ for the dope poster and photographing the night. Sam Reed has been family for a minute and I never take that for granted. Many more projects coming from her in the near future. I’ve been a fan of The Low Branches for about a year and even more so now – so much love for them. I can’t wait to see what they have planned of this summer.
We did it again Richmond. It is a true family vibe. Bringing RVA together to enjoy music – enjoy each other and build community. It sounds a bit unrealistic – but if you were there last night – I bet you felt the family vibe. If you missed it – I challenge you to come out to the next Cheats Movement Blog event (don’t know what that is yet…but I’ll think of something). For those that did come out last night: THANK YOU! #WESEEIT
Sam’s B-Boy Stance – S/O Brother Manifest and Blasco
WE SEE IT!
What guy? The guy that will hit up my cell phone next week and say, “Ah Cheats, I heard the show Saturday at Ipanema was great. I wish I had come out” or the guy that I run into next week and says, “RVA is just so boring, there is nothing to do.”
Trust me on this..there is something to do this Saturday night (10 PM) and it’s FREE. Come out to Live at Ipanema Cafe. The show is featuring great music by The Low Branches and Sam Reed. Bring a friend (or two or six), hang out with the blog family, be apart of the positive, diverse culture that is connecting RVA as family. RSVP for the show HERE – Get there early because it may fill up – then I’m sure to hear, “Man, I tried to get in but it was full.” Even though that one I understand. #WESEEIT
Poster by PJ Sykes
I’m paraphrasing but my brief part of my conversation with songstress Nickey McMullen before her Easter Sunday night set at the Camel went something like this:
Cheats: Are you nervous?
Nickey: No. I’m doing what I love to do…I’m just going to go up there and have fun with it.
And have fun she did! There is no doubt that RVA has a lot of talented singers BUT Nickey McMullen possess intangibles that go beyond just vocal ability. I believe it’s the difference between, what I consider, “young adults” and “grown folks.” It comes down to knowledge of self, knowledge of musical direction, and happiness. On stage, Nickey knows who she is, she knows where she wants to go (and take the audience), and she is having a great time performing. She has found her pocket, mixing original Jazz, Blues & Soul numbers with her unique contemporary versions. Her voice has the power that you expect but when she hits particular notes – there is a genuine moment of whoa….I didn’t see that one coming. Nickey is a staple at Tuesday Verses and rocks with Lyric Ave. I hope you get a chance to she her perform this summer. Check out her Facebook Page: CLICK HERE #WESEEIT
Last Friday, TEDxRVA took over downtown Richmond. I was there (at the invitation of curator Andy Stefanovich) to take in the day of creativity. I was also pulling some afternoon double duty blogging for WRIR at the invitation of RVA Open Source host Chris Dovi. The event was a clear success for the TEDxRVA organizers and, I believe, RVA as whole. While there was a bit of hoopla leading up to the event – who was speaking – how long they had to speak – were the speakers diverse – reflecting back on this massive undertaking – I want to take a quick moment to reflect on my personal takeaways from the inaugural TEDxRVA…..wrote a song about it – like to hear it-hear it go:
#6 WHO NEEDS NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS WHEN YOU’VE MET ZOE ROMANO
So my new year’s resolution – like many people – was to get outside and run more….well – as you know – RVA weather is very unpredictable hence the epic snow this week alone. I’ve been off to a slow start BUT I plan to pick it up — I have time right? Then at TEXxRVA, I met and heard the story of Zoe Romano. Zoe has literally run across the US. During this “odyssey run” she ran over a marathon day, about 30 miles everyday. She did this despite the weather (my key excuse), Knicks games on TV (my second key excuse), being hunger (my third key excuse) and being too tired (I use that pretty much as my default). Zoe is now preparing tor run the route of the Tour de France. Just thinking about that challenge makes me want to get dress and run a 5K– but I think there is a new R. Kelly trapped in the closet coming on TV in the next week so that will affect my training time — Okay, I can do this I’m going to run now. Oh snap – the Voice is back…never mind.
Support Zoe’s new challenge at: http://zoegoesrunning.wordpress.com/
#5 DEAD BIKES RUNNING RAMPANT IN RVA
I’ve lived in RVA my whole life and I’ve never run across a dead bike cover. I feel so robbed. Dead bikes are a problem people! So much that my dude Brother Manifest live tweeted this: “I didn’t know Richmond had a rampant abandoned bike problem. Someone should definitely call city hall about this…” RVA has it share of serious problems: crime, education, taxes, abandon homes, let me tell you what is no longer a problem — Dead Bikes. The Dead Bike problem has been solved….next up The Diamond and Richmond Coliseum. You think I’m joking…I’m one step away from writing in James Walker for City Council. He did solve one problem.
RVA we had a problem – who knew? www.deadbicycles.com
#4 TWO NAMES ARE OVERRATED
Madonna, Beyoncé, Prince, heck even Cher….they’ve proved one thing to me — two names are overrated. My theory was proven again at TEDxRVA by the one and only Elew. Elew was so dope he didn’t need a last name. I didn’t even ask him. The man has toured the world and on the TEDxRVA staged killed a his very own version on Nirvana on the piano. I’ve tried people…I tell everyone to call me Cheats — but it’s not the same. Elew, you have long surpassed whatever old fashion two names you once had.
Elew – I should have known he was great by the name….elewrockjazz.com
#3 CHEATS AND BROTHER MANIFEST KICKED OUT OF THE QUIET SECTION OF TEDXRVA
So as I mentioned earlier, I was doing so live blogging at the request of my friend Chris Dovi (WRIR). Well, along with me was my dude Brother Manifest. Now, neither one of us were on our “best” behavior – honestly, we often talk about going to “similar” style events and forums and being the only person of color in the room – that was not the case at TEDx – and probably just the near sight of each other caused us to cut up more than usual. Little did we know that we were in a “no talking zone” enforced by a very young lady we didn’t know but she looked serious. She went as far as slapping Manifest’s hand when he reached for the TEDx program. It could have been the greatest moment of the day until I realized this girl was serious – then both of us were like – hold up – we are grown –”little girl” have lost your mind? Man, you can’t take us anywhere. I had to break out of that section and blog from the rafters — sorry Nicole!
I can’t hang out with this trouble maker! Future RVA event makers, Manifest and I cannot be in the same room – it’s just too much – even in a room as large as the power plant – we found trouble. Plymouth Rock landed on US!
#2 THE ANDY STEFANOVICH DRINKING GAME – A MUST FOR THE NEXT TEDXRVA
As I mentioned earlier, the only reason I was at TEDxRVA was because of the invitation and generosity of TEDxRVA curator Andy Stefanovich. About a month ago, I attended a meeting with Andy and a small group of friends to discuss some of the challenges the TEDx team was facing leading up to the event. It was my first time meeting him but I could tell he was a sincere and passionate man. Little did I know just how passionate. Andy is a bit of crier. To his credit, he told us this in the TEDxRVA intro. He told us he would be moved to tears – probably several time during the day, and he was. Andy actually teared up before the first speaker said a word. As an emotional guy myself, I know where he is coming from but with that said…I’m a bit upset I didn’t think of the Andy drinking game. It will be on deck next time.
#1 MY UNBORN CHILDREN WILL PLAY THE VIOLIN…TEDxRVA HAS CHANGED THE FUTURE!
In my opinion, the most powerful moment of the entire conference was when locals Rob Gibsun & Eric Stanley performed a collaboration matching Rob’s spoken word with Eric’s violin. It was powerful, it was creative, and really well done. Immediately after I stop cheering, one thing was pretty clear – my unborn children will be forced by me to play the violin! I may have to adopt children just to make them violin players…way to go TEDxRVA – you did changed the future already…even if my unborn, (& not planned) child doesn’t know it. WE ALL WIN!
Rob Gibsun and Eric Stanley
Photos of this blog post are courtesy of the TEDxRVA Flickr – Dead Bike photos from DeadBicycles.com – Manifest photo from Style Weekly.
My grandmother always says, “If they are talking about you – you must be doing something right.” Well grandma, in the new issue of Greater Richmond Grid, they’re not just talking about The Cheats Movement Blog - they are talking about the Family…deep. Before I go any further I need to fill you in a little bit about what’s been happening this year and how I’ve been processing everything. I hope you’ve been following on the blog and on Facebook but in case you haven’t, this year has been amazing so far: new job, bigger shows, new projects, and I’m getting married in October. It’s definitely been a new level of stress. All of this was happening before Greater Richmond GRID, TEDxRVA, and the Meaning of Community Project.
Then everything centering around RVA and Community just started taking off. Greater Richmond Grid and TEDxRVA played a major role in bringing this discussion to the forefront. Basically overnight everything went into overdrive regarding RVA’s community and I found myself and virtually the entire family right in the middle of it. There were weeks – after working full days - I would then attend a dinner, meeting, or gathering every night – go home, kiss the fiancee, and then sit at the computer for hours working on editing or posting. It is not an ideal plan for work, blogging, or life.
My saving grace has been my family – both my blood family & my Cheats Movement Family. The fact that I know I’m not riding alone gives me energy – too much energy and motivation to keep everything going. And then there are days like yesterday. While at TEDxRVA, a wonderful lady, that I met once while doing a community project with my boss at Trinity Baptist Church, walked up to me and gave me a Greater Richmond Grid and said, “I’m so proud of you.” I open the magazine and not only did I see The Cheats Movement, I saw Brother Manifest, Hamilton Glass, and Tony Harris. I feel like a brother to those dudes (a little brother – they’ve been putting in work for years)…we are always working together – bouncing ideas -and trying to move this city forward. The fact that Greater Richmond Grid put us in their issue about “Makers” motivates me to no end. S/O Paul Spicer for putting this level of detail about Community in your magazine – you didn’t have to.
I would be lying to you if I didn’t mention that I’m still trying to process the growth of the blog. And I’m tying to “process” it while the blog is growing – and I’m encouraging it go grow. That sounds crazy right? I’m “processing” the blog’s current growth – while hoping that you will share it to everyone you know and it continues to grow bigger….I know right. Here is the thing - I know The Cheats Movement Family has what it takes to play a part in positive change in RVA. None of us are going to sit it out. None of us are gong to miss out on the energy that buzzing around the city right now. We are moving forward. Go get that Greater Richmond Grid and see what we see it! #WESEEIT
One week of breaking down Community was just not enough. After the finale of the series, I got a few more amazing post that I have to share – and when one of those are from the Mayor of RVA – well it just can’t wait. I’m truly honored that Mayor Jones heard about what was happening on The Cheats Movement Blog and was willing to add his voice to the project. #Amazing. Along with Mayor Jones, I so pleased to have Meg Medina, Kaity Kasper, Patience Salgado and Tiffany Jana in this bonus edition of breaking down the Meaning of Community. WE SEE IT
“…In good times, we celebrate together as a community and in tough times, we fight back together as a community.” Mayor Dwight Jones…CLICK HERE to read more from Mayor Jones
“When I think of “community” I think of addition vs. subtraction. Community means being willing to add something you value to the place where you live and work…” CLICK HERE to read more from Meg
“Community. It’s that group of people that rallies around you. That lifts you up. That shows up when you least expect it to lend support you didn’t now you needed…” CLICK HERE to read more from Kaity
“…I am a global thinker having worked, lived on, and traveled to 5 continents, I see the WORLD as a community…OUR community, ONE community. Anyone who fails to see the interconnectedness between ourselves and our brothers and sisters on the other side of the planet, or just down the street, is missing the point….” CLICK HERE to read more from Tiffany
“…Community is the defining moment when we hold and see that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, and we give ourselves over to it….” CLICK HERE to read more from Patience
This has been an amazing experience for me – Thank you all for participating and please keep following The Cheats Movement Blog on Facebook.
Are you ready for the next Cheats Movement Presents music event? Earlier this year I made a pledge to bring RVA together through music. I started curating music events that put some of my favorite local talents together on the same stage – no matter of genre. So far, it’s been a huge success. Together, we’ve been able to place Just Plain Sounds on the same stage and Glows in the Dark and Photosynthesizers. Next at the WRIR Hip Hop Showcase – it was Ohbliv, The New Juice Crew, and YFD in the building with some of the best local bands in the city. And now I’m very excited to announce the Cheats Movement’s contribution to the Live at Ipanema music series – the show will feature one of my new favorites, The Low Branches - who will be playing tunes from their recently released album, One Hundred Years Old. Along with a solo performance from one of the best singers in RVA (and blog family members) Sam Reed of Photosynthesziers and Beast Wellington. I’ve recently spent time with Sam in the studio and I’m very exited of what is in store for her in 2013. The event is FREE – Yes FREE – and not be be missed in RVA. #WESEEIT
The Low Branches are: Christina Gleixner, Joshua Quarles, and Matthew Klimas.
So mark your calendars:
April 13, 2013
Show starts at 10:00 PM (be there early)
Ipanema Cafe, 917 West Grace Street RVA 23220
Cost: FREE – So be in the building!
Live at Ipanema is organized and recorded live by Allen Bergendahl.
S/O to the homie Noah-O. RVA, in general, has been dealing with a lot of grief lately…good people leaving us too early. Noah-O hooks up with the homie Taylor Whitelow to remember Kleph Dollaz. The video is directed by another Grindaholic Rob Roby (Soul Live Media). In tough times – I love how these brothers are channeling their energy.
Words by Duron Chavis (Brother Manifest)
Richmond is a very complicated place. Despite how complex its history, the one thing that is indisputable is that Richmond was once the biggest enslaved African trading industry outside of New Orleans. One can’t begin to part lips to speak on Richmond as a historical city without taking a moment of silence over its role in the Maafa, or African Holocaust. Why Richmond though? What made Richmond such a pivotal place for the traffic of human beings? There is so much to talk about on this topic, for the sake of brevity and your attention span I am going to get straight to the point. Richmond made a name for itself as the market for enslaved Africans.
The earliest sales of kidnapped Africans took place at Manchester Docks in areas such as Rocketts Landing. During the 1700’s the importation of kidnapped Africans was seen as a lucrative business opportunity by British merchants. Once the country broke revolted against Britain in 1775 and gained independence in 1782; the question of whether importing kidnapped Africans from overseas was raised, not from the stance of whether it was morally destitute to keep African people in perpetual servitude – more so if it was financially savvy to keep importing them from overseas. In the North, they built ships to import kidnapped Africans. In Virginia, the argument was raised that if the importation stopped the financial value of the children of kidnapped Africans would rise. The Virginia General Assembly outlawed the importation of kidnapped Africans in 1778. The federal government outlawed the practice 30 years later in 1808.
Virginia saw a vision for African people in the late 1700s and that was as a commodity. The expansion into the lower South gave rise to states such Louisana, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. The tobacco that had made the original colonies successful was failing due to depleted soils from over cultivation of the land. Planters decided to move south. They took the children of kidnapped Africans with them and the interstate slave trade exploded with these migrations due to the ban on importation. Historians theorize that the origin of the term being “sold down the river” has its origins in Virginia, for much of the work in the lower south cotton fields was so intensive. It is estimated that from 1830 to 1860 Virginia sold 300,000 of the progeny of kidnapped Africans into the lower south for perpetual bondage. Wealthy plantation owners took advantage of the ban on importation. Virginia was known as a slave trading state and Richmond was its capital.
By 1845, less than 40 years after the ban on importation of kidnapped Africans – the city of Richmond listed 9 agents associated with the slave trade. By 1860 it listed 18 negro traders, 18 agents and 33 auctioneers all of whom were in the business of selling enslaved Africans. The Richmond Enquirer reported in 1857 that the receipts for slave auctions in the city totaled $3.5 million dollars. If we calculate for inflation that is the equivalent of $92,000,000 dollars today.
The sale of enslaved Africans was big business. There were large traders, small traders, agents, brokers, jail houses and auctioneers not to mention specialty retail merchants that sold the chains and shackles. You remember the movie Django right? Remember in the opening scene where you saw the shackles on the feet of Django and the rest of the coffle? A coffle was group of slaves that were manacled together and walked to auction for sale while attached to a wagon. Somebody specialized in selling shackles. Somebody specialized in selling clothing for enslaved Africans, because when sold at auction they would get a much better price. You had people who sold enslaved African women as sex slaves, domestic servants, concubines and prostitutes. Businessmen specialized in being bounty hunters or paddy rollers to capture runaway enslaved Africans. There were insurance salesmen who would insure an enslaved African as someone’s property or as part of their estate. There were ships that were contracted to transport slaves down the river and along the coast lines. Railroads companies were used to do the same. There were ad agencies that advertised the auctions. The physique, specialty, skill, mental ability or training and temperament all played a role in determining price and there were businesses that catalogued and assessed what characteristics an enslaved African had in order to determine how much he or she would be sold for. The purchase and sale of enslaved Africans was interwoven into the very fabric of the city.
Auctions took place in the streets, taverns and hotels of Shockoe Bottom. The most infamous jail was Lumpkins jail – located at 15th street between Franklin and Broad Street. Countless enslaved Africans passed through the jailhouses as they awaited sale. The African Burial Ground on the opposite side is where Africans who died in the jail from diseases, or were too rebellious and were hanged. Free blacks were also buried in the African Burial Ground. Gabriel, an enslaved African who led a rebellion in Richmond, Virginia with a plan and strategy to kidnap the governor and hold him hostage was also hanged and it is said he is buried in the African Burial Ground as well. It is only recently within the last 3 years that the African Burial Ground has been recognized by the city officially and there has been no archeological studies on the site to determine the size and scope of this mass grave.
Each time I walk in Shockoe Bottom, when I walk past the farmers market on 17th Street – when my feet hit those cobble stones, I think to myself these are the same cobblestones my ancestors feet walked on in shackles to be sold to the highest bidder. I walk past restaurants and clubs and think to myself – these places of entertainment and food were once boudoirs and auction houses. I visited a similar farmers market in London England that had the same exact cobblestones and design as Shockoe Bottom. The offices used to hold businesses that made their profit on the backs of my ancestors, for I am the progeny of enslaved Africans – living in Richmond Virginia. Slavery was an international business that localized itself in the states particularly Richmond ,VA to maximize its profit margin. Each time I pick up a magazine that promotes Richmond as a historic city – I crack a half smile – understanding that the whole story is hardly ever told. When I hear about plans to rebrand the city – that gloss over one of the most important aspects of the cities past – I say a silent prayer that one day we will realize we can’t run from this history; it lives with us to this day. When I think about the systemic poverty in the city, the disparity between those who have and those who have not – I remember that the roots of that disparity were created right here in Richmond, Virginia.
Take a moment to review the work of the Richmond City Council Slave Trail Commission. CLICK HERE
Duron Chavis (Brother Manifest) is the director of Happily Natural Day and coordinator of the Mcdonough Community Garden. He will be writing about RVA Black History every Friday this month.