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Museum moves impress
Fredericksburg officials glad to see local faces on National Slavery Museum's advisory panel.

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Date published: 12/6/2002

City leaders hail Wilder's push for local input

City Council members and other officials said yesterday they're pleased to see locals involved in the development of the National Slavery Museum planned for Fredericksburg.

Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder announced Wednesday that former Mayor Lawrence Davies and Mary Washington College President William M. Anderson Jr. have been appointed to the museum's advisory panel. The museum is slated for 38 acres in the planned Celebrate Virginia tourism development off Interstate 95.

"I think it was a good move to bring Davies and Anderson on board, to bring local people into the process," said Councilman Matt Kelly, who attended Wednesday's community update at the college's Dodd Auditorium.

Davies, who was mayor for 20 years, said he plans to use his advisory role as a bridge between museum officials and area residents.

"I think [the museum] felt there was a need to keep an open line of communication," Davies said. "This offers me an opportunity to be a liaison between the community and those who are making the decisions."

Mayor Bill Beck, who was dismayed earlier this year when no Fredericksburg residents were invited to a scholarly symposium in Washington to discuss the museum's content, said he was glad to learn of the appointments of Davies and Anderson.

But he said he was especially interested in noted scholar John Hope Franklin's role as senior adviser for the project.

Franklin, the James B. Duke professor of history emeritus at Duke University, has written several books on black history, including, "From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans." He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995.

"Anytime John Hope Franklin is involved, I'm impressed by that," Beck said.

Beck and Vice Mayor Scott Howson were the only two council members who voted earlier this year not to loan $1 million to the museum. Kelly and three other current councilmen were not in office when the vote was taken.

The money, which is to be used to benefit all of Celebrate Virginia, will be paid back through a special tax on the development's property owners.

Earl Yates, who was named the museum's executive director in October, stressed Wednesday that he wants to "make sure we are in touch with and a part of this community."


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