To Be Sold: Virginia and the American Slave Trade offers a frank exploration of Virginia’s role in the business of the second middle passage—the forced relocation of two-thirds of a million African Americans from the Upper South to the Cotton South in the decades before the Civil War. Anchoring the exhibition is a series of images created by English artist Eyre Crowe (1824–1910), who in March 1853 witnessed the proceedings of Richmond’s largest business. Crowe turned his sketches and experience into a series of remarkable paintings and engravings that humanized the enslaved and spoke eloquently of the pathos and upheaval of the trade. The story of the American slave trade is one of numbers, but it is also the story of individuals whose families were torn apart and whose lives were forever altered.
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Maurie D. McInnis, curator, with contributions by Barbara C. Batson, Gregory Crawford, and Gregg D. Kimball