(CNN)-The city of Fredericksburg, Virginia, has removed an auction block marking the spot where African Americans were once displayed and sold as slaves.
The 800-pound slave auction block was removed from a downtown corner Friday morning after nearly two years of deliberation among City Council, months of legal action that threatened to keep the stone in place, and weeks of postponement due to the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
“The institution of slavery was central to the community prior to the Civil War,” said John Hennessy, chief historian of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. “The trauma involved in that passed through generations. The block became an embodiment of the present and past pain in this community.”
Local tradition, records, and statements by African Americans themselves have identified the elevated stone as a place where slaves were sold. “There is no direct quote noting that a slave stood on the block to be sold, but there are statements made in the post-Civil War years by African Americans stating they were sold on that corner,” the city notes on its website.
Other similarly contentious sites that have been the subject of nationwide debate are being removed amid protests following the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has announced plans to remove a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond’s historic Monument Avenue. In Birmingham, Alabama, a statue of Confederate sailor Charles Linn was toppled by demonstrators and is scheduled to be removed by city officials.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said that a memorial dedicated to Confederate soldiers who died at a Union prison camp in the city will be removed from a local park.
In Fredericksburg, the slave auction block became a site for protests, and it was recently tagged with red, green and white spray paint.