Brown Grove, Virginia

History: Brown Grove Community is a predominately Black community that was settled by freed slaves. 

Harms: Currently, the preservation of this land is being threatened by private development. The community has been inundated with industry for years. Examples include unattended businesses, displacement of homes and land, divide of the community by interstate 95; displaced families due to airport expansion. Wegman’s is now encroaching Brown Grove Community’s historic areas, which include seven African American cemeteries, a Black-only School archaeological site, and a historic, Black-only church. 

Reparation: AARN has worked alongside the Brown Grove Preservation Group (BGPG) since spring 2021. Brown Grove is one of only two VA historic districts developed by Free Blacks. The descendant community land has been the recipient of significant environmental injustice since the turn of the 20th century with the development of interstate I-95, an airport, landfill, concrete plant, industrial park and more. Brown Grove and is currently facing erasure with the development of a 1.7 million-square-foot Wegman’s distribution center. AARN successfully secured a visit with the Environmental Protection Agency to explore ways to protect Brown Grove from further adverse effects. Additionally, the Supreme Court of Virginia has agreed to hear an appeal of two lower court rulings that determined that residents living as close as 1,200 feet or across the street from the Wegmans did not have the right to challenge the approval of the project by local officials. A date for the hearing is forth coming. 

AARN and the International Center of Transitional Justice sponsored The Brown Grove Empowerment and Strategic Planning Retreat. Read more at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights website.