Therbia Parker Sr. isn't mincing words. On former Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder: “He's a scumbag.” About his situation: “I got screwed.” On his immediate plan of action: “I gotta get me a lawyer.”
As reported by the Free Lance-Star, Parker is one of a handful of donors seeking the return of items gifted to the U.S. National Slavery Museum project backed by Wilder, which didn't come to fruition.
Parker says he and his wife donated 95 items from their personal collection of slavery and Jim Crow-era artifacts to the museum, with the guarantee that if the project didn't get off the ground the items would be returned. It didn't, and they weren't, he says.
A provision in the contract signed by museum officials requires that the gifts revert back to his estate, Parker says. But after dozens of inquires made to Wilder's office at Virginia Commonwealth University about the whereabouts of the items, Parker says, he's yet to receive a response.
“They were supposed to be in a gallery,” says Parker, speaking from his home in Suffolk. “I'm quite sure that [museum officials] don't know where they are.”
Messages left with Wilder's office at VCU weren't returned as of press time. The former governor confirmed that the project was dormant in a letter sent to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in March, shortly after the closing of its Fredericksburg offices.
Elaine Lidholm, a spokeswoman for the state department of consumer services, says the museum's status as a charitable organization lapsed in 2008. Museum officials haven't registered to resume soliciting charitable donations.