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Cosby's call gets thumbs up
Would Americans donate $8 to the planned slavery museum in Celebrate Virginia? Most in a random sampling here said yes.

Date published: 9/24/2006


If people on the streets of Fredericksburg are an accurate barometer, most adults and teens are willing to donate $8 to support the U.S. National Slavery Museum.

"I'd consider it. I'm not sure about where I'd send it," said Scott Quann, a student at Fredericksburg Christian School. For him and his friends, $8 translates into a CD or food, he said.

"Who do I give it to?" Quann asked.

Only a handful of people were familiar with the museum's newest initiative until it was explained: Comedian Bill Cosby and Richmond Mayor Doug Wilder on Friday announced a $100 million fundraising campaign to open the National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg.

To get things rolling, Cosby asked each American to donate $8. Cosby has already pledged $1 million to the museum, scheduled to open on land in Celebrate Virginia in 2008.

They picked $8 because they thought every American could afford to give this amount, and the figure 8 is the shape of shackles used to secure slaves.

Cosby said he realized this type of campaign "generally fails badly, but I'm going to try again because I'm going to present this national slavery museum as a jewel that's missing in a crown."

If all Americans--288.4 million men, women and children--each gave $8, the campaign would raise $2.3 billion.

Paula Royster, a Spotsylvania County resident and president of the Center for African-American Genealogical Research Inc., thinks the $8 appeal will be a success. She was attending a Black Arts Festival at the original Walker-Grant School in Fredericksburg.

"That's lunch for one day. It's probably 3 gallons of gas. You can spend $8 a day, $40 a week on things we can't account for. It's a very small sacrifice to make. I'm sure people will respond," Royster said.

Another festival-goer, Annyoz Hamm, is eager to contribute $8.

"I think we need more than the block on the corner," Hamm said, referring to a marker at the corner of Charles and William streets in downtown Fredericksburg where slaves were once auctioned.

"There's a lot of history here young people need to be told. They've never heard of 'Roots.' They only know Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X," said Hamm, a youth counselor and Fredericksburg resident.

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