June 5, 2020, this 176-year-old 800-pound slave auction block was removed from a street corner in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I say its removal was way overdue.
Some would say, “We’re removing history …” and it seems to me we’re only removing a symbol of history — a monument. History didn’t change Friday, June 5, 2020, but our memorializing it on a street corner in Virginia did.
The auction industry has had a storied past, including some horrid moments when auctioneers sold slaves on this street corner in 1844. Why would we want to display an object in the public’s view reminding anyone of that?
Nevertheless, history books, museums, and possibly even this blog will survive. Nobody is suggesting the record be destroyed, and it should be available to students, historians and the like.
Such displays in the public however are inappropriate. Our citizenry (including black, white, and any other color) should not be required to walk by a reminder of this terrible time in our history.
Unfortunately, such public monuments are often incorporated into displays by violent extremists and racist groups, using such historical markers for modern-day hate. For this reason alone, such should be out of the general public’s view.
If this kind of public display doesn’t bother you, then that’s really the problem. It should bother you … enough to fight to have it removed from a street corner in Virginia or anywhere else.
Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.