What is: Chimborazo Park, Richmond, VA.  Statue of Liberty replica (this one #136 of about 200) dedicated in Chimborazo Park on February 11, 1951. A gift to the city by the Boy Scouts of Robert E. Lee Council in 1951.  Worth noting this is the same site of the Confederate States military hospital, which was the largest hospital in human history, receiving 17,000 wounded and serving more than 76,000 patients.

What was: Inscription at the base: “With the faith and courage of their forefathers who made possible the freedom of these United States.  The Boy Scouts of America dedicated this copy of the statue of Liberty as a pledge of everlasting fidelity and loyalty.  40th Anniversary Crusade to strengthen the arm of Liberty, 1950.”

Between 1949 and 1952, approximately two hundred 100-inch (2.5 m) replicas of the statue, made of stamped copper, were purchased by Boy Scout troops and donated in 39 states in the U.S. and several of its possessions and territories. The project was the brainchild of Kansas City businessman, J.P. Whitaker, who was then Scout Commissioner of the Kansas City Area Council.

The copper statues were manufactured by Friedley-Voshardt Co. (Chicago, Illinois) and purchased through the Kansas City Boy Scout office. The statues are approximately 8+1⁄2 feet (2.6 m) tall without the base, constructed of sheet copper, weigh 290 pounds (130 kg), and originally cost US$350 (equivalent to about $3,900 in 2021) plus freight. The mass-produced statues are not meticulously accurate, and a conservator noted that “her face isn’t as mature as the real Liberty. It’s rounder and more like a little girl’s.” Many of these statues have been lost or destroyed, but preservationists have been able to account for about 100 of them (Source: Wikipedia)

What is: The Mayo Bridge, across the James River, connecting the City of Richmond with what was the town of Manchester.  Route 360 from the southside to downtown

What was: John Mayo built his first toll bridge here in 1788 to connect Richmond and Manchester, the town across the James River.  The earliest version of the Mayo Bridge was little more than a series of rickety pontoons tied together by wood planks.  Given the power and flooding of the James River, by 1802, John Mayo found himself faced with the task of building the fourth iteration of the Mayo Bridge. To do this, he relied on a workforce often available for large scale construction projects, a group of free and enslaved, black and white, local and regional workers, and skilled craftsmen, who made up the brute muscle to build a major bridge

The bridge also has a major place in the story of slavery, as Africans being sold south from the 19th century markets in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom, would be walked in coffles or transported in carts across the bridge to be loaded onto ships and sent south to their new owners.

In 1800, Richmond was a slave town, with a community whipping post where slaveholders had punishment meted out in a public square. Enslaved men loaded and moved flatboats of tobacco and other cargo. Throughout the state in 1800, 39.2% of the total population were slaves.  During the spring and summer, Gabriel planned a revolt that intended to end slavery in Virginia. Plans were made with enslaved people over 10 counties and the cities of Richmond, Norfolk, and Petersburg, Virginia. Hundreds of slaves from central Virginia expected to march into Richmond across this bridge and take control of the Virginia State Armory and the Virginia State Capitol, as well as set fire to a warehouse district in Richmond, and seize the bridge to control traffic in and out of the city.  Known as Gabriel’s Rebellion, due to weather it had to be postponed.  In the interim, someone reported the plans.  Everyone associated with Gabriel’s Rebellion was hung.

The Virginia Assembly in 1802 made it illegal for blacks, whether free or enslaved, to obtain and pilot or navigate a boat. Two years later, they were unable to meet in groups after their work was done or on Sundays. In 1808, state legislators banned hiring out of slaves and required freed blacks to leave the state within 12 months or face re-enslavement.

What is: a parking lot with an area that has been explored in an archaeological dig.  Near the train station and Interstate 95 running behind the trees, Downtown Richmond, VA

What was: The Devils Half Acre, also known as Lumpkin’s jail. It was a home, tavern and jail.  It was the place of some of the South’s most savage treatment of slaves, who would be sold at one of the many auction houses in the area, or who were captured under the Fugitive Slave Act.

Robert Lumpkin opened the jail in 1844 and was known as the “bully trader” with a flair for cruelty.  Part of an 1856 account noted, “After entering his cell, the handcuffs were not removed, but, in addition, fetters were placed upon his feet. In this manacled condition he was kept during the greater part of his confinement. The torture which he suffered, in consequence, was excruciating. The gripe of the irons impeded the circulation of his blood, made hot and rapid by the stifling atmosphere, and caused his feet to swell enormously. The flesh was worn from his wrists, and when the wounds had healed, there remained broad scars as perpetual witnesses against his owner.”

Lumpkin maximized his income by offering slave traders accommodation, a slave trading holding facility, and an auction house.  It remained in operation until the Union occupation of Richmond in 1865.

When the city fell to the Union, Lumpkin got out.  Shackling some 50 enslaved and weeping men, women and children together, the trader tried to board a train heading south, but there was no room. He died not long after the war ended.

After the war, it was renamed and reclaimed as “God’s Half Acre” when Lumpkin’s wife, Mary, once also a slave, made the property available to house a school that became Richmond Theological Seminary — the original campus of Virginia Union University, a historically black college now located near by.

The historic site was buried during the construction of Interstate 95 through Richmond.  It was found in 2008 when archaeologists discovered the original foundations, walkways and more than 6,000 artifacts beneath 16 feet of fill.

What is: Sunflower County Seed Barn, Sunflower County, MS

What was: This barn is the location where Emmett Till was beaten and, most likely, murdered. The barn is on what was then Leslie Milam’s (the brother of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant) plantation.

According to the testimonies of Willie Reed, his grandfather Add Reed, and Mandy Bradley during the murder trial, this barn was where Emmett Till was taken the night that he was kidnapped. Willie Reed testified to seeing a white pickup with four white men and three black men–one on the floor and two sitting on the rails beside him–pull up to the barn. Soon after, he heard what sounded like a person being badly beaten inside of the barn. Willie Reed then saw J.W. Milam come out of the barn, get a drink of water, and return to the barn. (1) Add Reed supported Willie Reed’s testimony, claiming to have seen J.W. Milam and the white truck. Mandy Bradley testified that she saw the men going in and out of the barn around 6:30-7:00am. She saw the men back the truck into the shed, then drive away. (2)

The testimonies of Willie Reed, Add Reed, and Mandy Bradley had the potential to upset the Emmett Till murder trial, as their testimony revealed that the murder actually occurred in Sunflower County, not in Tallahatchie County, which would shift the jurisdiction of the courts. However, the trial remained in Tallahatchie County.

Following their testimony, Willie Reed, Add Reed, and Mandy Bradley all had to flee Mississippi.

This site has often been written out of the Emmett Till narrative due to William Bradford Huie’s article in LOOK Magazine. Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam could not be tried again for Emmett Till’s murder due to double jeopardy laws, but the other people involved in the murder, namely Leslie Milam who owned the barn where the murder took place, could still be prosecuted. Huie needed signed consent forms from each person involved in the murder to publish the article, so Huie re-wrote the story of the murder to involve only Milam and Bryant, changing the location of the murder to a barn near Glendora, MS in Tallahatchie County.  As Dave Tell et al. note, “Although it is wrong, Huie’s story has been so influential that every single map published on the Till murder between the publication of LOOK’s article in January 1956 and 2005 left the Milam Plantation off the map entirely.” (3)

The barn is now under private ownership.

For more, visit the Emmett Till Interpretive Center

Source: https://www.tillnationalpark.org/sunflower-county-seed-barn

Footnotes 1. Devery Anderson, Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement, University Press of Mississippi, 2015, pp. 128-9.

  1. ibid, p. 133.
  2. Dave Tell, Davis Houck, Pablo Correa & the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, “Seed Barn, Milam Plantation,” Emmett Till Memory Project, 2021, https://tillapp.emmett-till.org/items/show/4

What is: Mabry Mill along the Blue Ridge Parkway. One of the most photographed and painted places along the Parkway.

What was:Ed Mabry (1867-1936) built the mill which was really 3 mills in one place. He and his wife Lizzy ground corn, sawed lumber, and did blacksmithing for three decades. By many accounts Lizzie was the better miller of the two. In 1903 he had returned to Floyd County, VA after working as a blacksmith in the coal fields of West Virginia.

It was first a blacksmith and wheelwright shop, then became a sawmill. By 1905 it was in operation as a gristmill, as well. People from as far away as eight miles were bringing their corn to be ground at the mill. The water power for the mill was limited which meant the milling took longer than many of the other local mills. However, that slow grinding also meant they did not scorch/burn the corn as it was milled and they had a reputation for some of the finer quality grinds and the best tasting cornmeal around. That resulted in loyal customers. Mabry bought adjacent tracts of land, mostly for the purpose of acquiring more water power to address the issue of water. The National Park Service acquired the Mabry Mill property in 1938 after Ed died and Lizzie moved away.

What is: fields and fields and fields of cotton…some growing, some harvested, some planted.

What was: “Cotton is King” In the years before the Civil War—American planters in the South continued to grow tobacco and rice but Cotton emerged as the antebellum South’s major commercial crop. Cotton was one of the world’s first luxury commodities, after sugar and tobacco. By 1860, the southern states were producing two-thirds of the world’s cotton.

In 1793, Eli Whitney revolutionized the production of cotton when he invented the cotton gin, a device that separated the seeds from raw cotton, rather than requiring all manual labor. The cotton gin allowed a slave to remove the seeds from fifty pounds of cotton a day, compared to one pound if done by hand. After the seeds had been removed, the cotton was pressed into bales. These bales, weighing about four hundred to five hundred pounds, were wrapped in burlap cloth and sent down the Mississippi River.

Nearly all the exported cotton was shipped to Great Britain, fueling its burgeoning textile industry at the time. They also shipped to mills in the northern US. The South’s dependence on cotton was matched by its dependence on slaves to harvest the cotton. Some southerners believed that their region’s reliance on a single cash crop and its use of slaves to produce it gave the South economic independence and made it immune from the effects of industrialization that were occurring in the North. Between the years 1820 and 1860, approximately 80 percent of the global cotton supply was produced in the United States. Source: http://pressbooks-dev.oer.hawaii.edu/ ushistory/chapter/the-economics-of-cotton/

What is: a vacant lot, where Dr. TRM Howard lived, Mound Bayou, Mississippi.  His place burned down several years ago.

What was: Mound Bayou is 42 miles away from Sumner, MS where the Emmett Till trial occurred. However, it is an essential place in civil rights history for numerous reasons, but among them was that Mound Bayou and Dr. Howard’s house in particular, provided protection for witnesses, a home base for the black press, and a refuge for Till’s mother Mamie Till-Bradley. Without Mound Bayou and Dr Howard we would likely still not know what happened to Emmett Till.

Dr. Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard was a legendary Mississippi activist and his charismatic style meant that threats on his life were common. In the years before Till was murdered, Howard already had a $1,000 price tag on his life. He traveled with armed bodyguards, and his home featured twenty-four-hour-a-day armed protection.  You get a sense of his home in #Tillthemovie

The sheer security of the Howard home explains why so many African Americans stayed with him when they came to Mississippi for the Till trial. It is why Till’s mother Mamie Till-Bradley, Michigan Congressman Charles C. Diggs, and other African Americans used the Howard home as their base camp.  Howard provided the motorcade that protected Mamie Till when she attended the trial.  Local stories tell of Mamie being wrapped up in a carpet on the floor of a car, as the body guards drove the 40 miles to court.

It was Howard’s home where on Sunday, September 18, 1955, around midnight when a young black plantation worker named Frank Young arrived claiming he had direct evidence linking J. W. Milam, Roy Bryant, and four others to the murder. He also broke the then-shocking news that Till had been killed in Sunflower County. He told Howard that, at approximately 6 am on August 28, Till had been conveyed via a pickup truck with four white people in the front and three African Americans in the back (including Till) to the seed barn on the Milam Plantation operated by J. W. Milam’s brother Leslie.

Young also told Howard that witnesses heard desperate screams emanating from that seed barn; that they saw J. W. Milam emerge from the barn for a drink of water; that the screams gradually faded; and that a body was taken from the barn, covered with a tarpaulin, and placed in the back of a truck. He further assured Howard that this entire story could be verified by five Black witnesses: himself, Willie Reed, Add Reed, Walter Billingsley, and Amanda Bradley.

The next evening (after the first day of the trial was complete), Howard called a strategy meeting at his home in Mound Bayou. Present at the meeting were NAACP officers Medgar Evers and Ruby Hurley and three influential members of the Black press: James Hicks, L. Alex Wilson (Tri-State Defender), and Simeon Booker (Jet). Although Hurley, Booker, and Hicks wanted to go public with the story immediately, Howard prevailed upon them to hold the story until the safety of the five witnesses could be found and their safety assured. They agreed to contact the state’s lawyers through a trusted member of the white press, the Memphis Press-Scimitar’s Clark Porteous.

Although T.R.M. Howard is generally remembered for his 1951 founding of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, Howard’s civil rights credentials were vast. He organized a non-violent movement in the Mississippi Delta four years before the Montgomery Bus Boycott (and three years before Emmett Till’s murder), he organized annual civil rights rallies, and he stoked Medgar Evers’ nascent activism by hiring him.

Several years after the Till trial, Dr. Howard himself would be smuggled out of Mississippi as a KKK hit was planned on him.

Source: https://tillapp.emmett-till.org/items/show/10



What is: Pottery School, Pamunkey Indian Reservation, King William County, Virginia.  Home of the Pamunkey Potter’s Guild since the early 1930s.

What was: Pottery production for Virginia’s indigenous peoples began roughly three millennia prior to contact with Europeans. From its beginning to approximately five decades after European contact, the ceramics of Virginia’s coastal plains consisted of small to large wide-mouthed jars with conoidal bodies and rounded bases. Ceramics were produced and used on a household basis for a multitude of purposes including cooking and storage. The period of initial European contact resulted in the first marked shift in European influence on Pamunkey pottery production in which pottery shifted from production for consumption to production for exchange.

During the nineteenth century, the Pamunkey potters had a thriving peddlers’ trade throughout the Peninsula area. Many believed that this activity was ruined by the construction of the York and Richmond Railroad in 1854 and the traumatic events surrounding the Civil War and resulting disruption of life in King William county area. Reconstruction, would, of course, take a further toll. By the beginning of the 20th century, only a handful of potters remained, but all the senior members of the community could recall a day when their grandparents made a living, at least in part, from peddling their stewing pots, milk pans, and other pottery vessels throughout the country.

Today, the Pamunkey Reservation consists of 1,200 acres. That is 7% of the land originally granted by the 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation.



What is: The lot where Aaron Henry’s 4th St. Drug Store was located, Clarksdale, MS

What was: Aaron Henry was born in 1922, the son of sharecroppers.  He joined other members of his family and worked the cotton fields on the Flowers Plantation outside of Clarksdale.   He was drafted into the United States Army in 1943 and served in segregated units in the Pacific theatre. He decided then that when he returned home to Mississippi, he would work to gain equality and justice for Black Americans.

He used the G. I. Bill, a law that provided educational benefits for World War II veterans, to attend Xavier College (now Xavier University) in New Orleans. Graduating in 1950 with a pharmaceutical degree, he returned to Clarksdale and opened the Fourth Street Drug Store along with K. W. Walker, a White Mississippian. It was the only Black-owned drugstore in the area. As Henry recalled, “Our drugstore was to become the gathering place and the hub for political and civil rights planning for three decades.” including voter registration and boycotts of downtown merchants. But being in the movement had its costs. During his fight for civil rights, Henry was arrested more than thirty times, his wife was fired from her job as a teacher, and both their home and his store were firebombed.

Dr. Aaron E. Henry was a prominent NAACP leader, state and national political figure. He served as a mentor to many of the young kids involved in the 1960s civil rights efforts.  Henry once said that his grandmother had inspired him to become involved in the struggle for civil rights. She told him he was just as worthy of justice as any White man and that “they put on their pants the same way you do, one leg at a time.”

Historian John Dittmer noted, ““That he [Henry] stayed in Mississippi, and for the next three decades fought for human rights in a different political environment is a tribute both to his commitment and to his under-appreciated role as Mississippi’s most important black politician since Reconstruction.”  He was one of the most important of mentors for SNCC activists when they came to Mississippi.

Source: https://mshistorynow.mdah.ms.gov/issue/aaron-henry-a-civil-rights-leader-of-the-20th-century

What is: The Riverside Hotel, Clarksdale, MS

What was: Previously the G.T. Thomas Afro-American Hospital where Bessie Smith died in 1937, it was transformed into a hotel by Mrs. Z. L. Ratliff in 1944. The Riverside Hotel opened for business in 1944. Mrs. Hill purchased the building in 1957 and it has remained in the hands of the Ratliff family to this day.

As one of the only African American hotels in Jim Crow Mississippi, it was listed in the Greenbook and played host to a Who’s Who of blues and R&B legends including Duke Ellington, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Sam Cooke whose legendary song, “A Change is Gonna Come” is believed to reference the nearby Sunflower River.” Others, including Ike Turner, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Robert Nighthawk, liked the place so much they moved in.

Ike Turner was living here in 1951 when he and fellow Clarksdalian Jackie Brenston wrote, rehearsed here (and then recorded at Sun Studio’s) what many consider the first rock ‘n roll song, “Rocket 88.”

It was a safe space for traveling musicians and became a community hub and the most blues-historic hotel in the world.

The Riverside Hotel is the only blues hotel that is still Black-owned in Clarksdale. But the building, which has not been operational since storm damage in April 2020, needs significant rehabilitation. The family is determined to continue to honor the legacy of their family and restore and reopen its doors.  In 2021 it was recognized as one of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in America.

The Ratliff family is looking for donors and partnerships to ensure that this invaluable history is here for generations to come! Please donate to support its’ preservation. Source: http://www.riversideclarksdale.com/