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Kristen Green tells the story of an enslaved woman who transformed a notorious slave jail

You might not know the story of Mary Lumpkin. Many of her own descendants didn’t know her story.

She inherited a former slave jail from the man who not only enslaved her, but fathered her five children. And she transformed that jail into what became the beginnings of a historically black university. It’s a story of endurance and perseverance.

Today my guest is author Kristen Green, who tells Mary Lumpkin’s story in her upcoming book “The Devil’s Half Acre.” That’s what enslaved people used to call that notorious jail.

Green is from Virginia and now lives in Richmond, and while she was working on “The Devil’s Half Acre,” her city was again transformed — this time by protests that led to the removal of the Confederate statues that used to line Richmond’s Monument Avenue. Like Green’s book, it’s an echo from the past that speaks to the South’s present.

Show notes

Other music in this episode

  • Sergey Cheremisinov, "Mother's Hands"
  • Mr. ruiZ, "A Rush of Blood to the Heart"
Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.