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Auction block stone can educate generations

No one knows with certainty how many human beings — men, women and children — were forced to stand on the 800-pound stone that remained planted in the ground on a street corner in Fredericksburg, Virginia, for 176 years. What we do know is that each and every one of them was treated like an animal. Each and every one was sold and bought.

They were enslaved black Americans. The stone was an auction block used solely to display human beings being bid on by white people.

Recently, Fredericksburg officials had the stone removed. The local NAACP chapter had called for the action in 2017. Fredericksburg City Council voted in 2019 to remove it, but a lawsuit filed in an attempt to block the action delayed it until last week.

In seeking action, the NAACP also put its finger on why the stone should be on public display, as is the plan. It is to be placed in a museum — with accompanying material explaining and, in pictures, portraying the barbarity of slavery.

The stone was a relic of ” a time of hatred and degradation,” the NAACP pointed out. Precisely.

Relics such as the slave auction block are critical reminders of tolerated, even encouraged, violent bigotry. We must never, ever forget that it existed.

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