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Meeting with Mayor Stoney in Richmond, former New Orleans mayor calls for honest dialogue on race

If Civil War history is to be displayed across the American South, it must be portrayed fairly and accurately with an open dialogue about racial disparities in the region, the former mayor of New Orleans told Richmond’s mayor Tuesday.

Capital News Service

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By Katja Timm

If Civil War history is to be displayed across the American South, it must be portrayed fairly and accurately with an open dialogue about racial disparities in the region, the former mayor of New Orleans told Richmond’s mayor Tuesday.

Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney discussed the symbolism of monuments honoring Confederate figures at a forum attended by several dozen people at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.

Stoney, who is African-American, and Landrieu, who is white, said it’s important for local leaders to tackle social issues such as racism and to chart a path toward dismantling inequities.

“I don’t want to put [New Orleans] back the way it was, because it wasn’t great the night before Katrina hit it,” Landrieu said. “I don’t want to create something new that nobody recognizes, because our history is important, but what I want to do is put it back like it was if we had gotten it right the first time.”

When he became mayor of New Orleans in 2010, Landrieu inherited a city that had been struck by Hurricane Katrina five years earlier and was dealing with the BP oil spill, which started the previous month. Amid the city’s restoration process, he was faced with the unseemly racial past of the South, and the question of what part of history to preserve and what to lay to rest.

“The vestiges of slavery remain to this day,” said Landrieu, who served as mayor until 2018. “We talk about slavery, but we don’t do it well.”

In May 2017, Landrieu delivered a speech on the removal of four Confederate monuments in New Orleans.

“These statues are not just stone and metal, they’re not just innocent remembrances of a benign history,” Landrieu said. “These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy: ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for.”

In his speech two years ago and at Tuesday’s forum, Landrieu agreed with Stoney that the Confederate monuments send the wrong message and ignore the other side of the history of the South.

“It immediately begs the question — why are there no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives of the pain, of sacrifice, of shame — all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans,” Landrieu said in 2017.

As a part of his E Pluribus Unum initiative, Landrieu visited Richmond in hopes of “bringing people together across the American South around issues of race, equity and economic opportunity,” according to Richmond city officials. The Latin phrase “e pluribus unum” means “out of many, one.”

In recent years, Richmond residents and officials have had an ongoing, polarized debate about whether to remove Confederate monuments in the city that was once the Confederate capital.

Stoney said keeping reminders of the Confederacy only increases the economic and racial inequities that exist in Richmond.

“You see some people living paycheck to paycheck, and others are living like they’re on TV,” Stoney said. “There’s a Richmond. Then there’s an RVA.”

Stoney said a wide wealth disparity exists in the city. Booming areas like Carytown and the Fan District are generally more affluent, while families in neighborhoods like Jackson Ward struggle to make rent.

“We all have a different idea of what quality of life is, but we don’t see it across the border,” Stoney said.

Landrieu called the wealth and racial gap in Richmond “a block away, but a world apart.”

As Richmond’s shameful racial history seems to bleed into the present, Stoney said Confederate monuments do not help in bringing an already-divided Richmond together.

“These monuments say, ‘Look who’s still in charge, we are this high and you’re this low,’” Stoney said. “That’s not the Richmond that we are.”

Stoney and Landrieu said they both agree that the way to advance is to create an open and honest dialogue and to represent the South’s history accurately and inclusively.

“If you’re going to curate our history, curate all of it, and curate it honestly,” Landrieu said.

Stoney said political participation is a crucial part of paving the road to dismantling racial and social inequities.

“I think we have more of an opportunity to participate than just voting. That’s a passive way,” Stoney said. “Democracy, to me, is you put good in, you get good out. If you put bad in, you get bad out.”

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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Local artist Doug Orleski, better known as RVA Coffee Stain, selected as Monument 10K “Dash for the Cash” participant

Though he acknowledges that he still has plenty of work left to do to prepare before race day, Orleski already has plans for the $2,500 if he does cross the finish line first: he’ll donate the winnings to the VCU Massey Cancer Center.

RVAHub Staff

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Doug Orleski, the Richmond-based artist known as ‘RVA Coffee Stain,’ has been selected for an opportunity to win $2,500 on Saturday, March 28, as the Dash for the Cash participant at the 2020 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k presented by Kroger. In the Dash for the Cash, one participant is selected to get a head start on the course and race against the rest of the field in hopes of being the first to cross the finish line. If the contestant can outrun the fastest elite runner, the Dash for the Cash prize is theirs for the taking.

Orleski’s head start will be based on his estimated predicted time on his race entry form, previous running experiences, and estimated times of elite runners in the field. His goal is to attempt to cross the finish line before any of the other athletes running in the full 10k (6.2 miles). If he does outpace the rest of the field to the finish line, he will win the $2,500 cash prize.

The 2020 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k will be Orleski’s first-ever race after taking up running several years ago as part of a commitment to improving his health through active living. He began exercising and running on a regular basis and in the process lost 60 pounds on his journey to a healthier, more active lifestyle.

Through his cartoon and sketch work as RVA Coffee Stain, Orleski says he’s able to celebrate Richmond through art, and his work helped him become part of the community after he moved to the area in 2012. Taking part in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k is a natural extension of that community involvement and another great way to celebrate Richmond’s love for active living and big events.

“I was surprised and excited to be approached with the opportunity to take part in the Dash for the Cash,” Orleski said. “I was looking forward to the experience already since this will be my first actual race, and now I am anticipating race day on March 28 even more.”

Though he acknowledges that he still has plenty of work left to do to prepare before race day, Orleski already has plans for the $2,500 if he does cross the finish line first: he’ll donate the winnings to the VCU Massey Cancer Center, one of the official charity partners of the 10k, to help aid in their fight against cancer and support the lifesaving research being done here in Richmond.

In addition to the training he’s already done, Orleski plans to utilize the help of the Richmond Road Runners Club Advanced 10k Training Team, particularly to build speed. Orleski joked that after learning he’d been selected, “I texted my wife and said it looks like it’s time to start training so I don’t look like a fool out there,” but he knows this is a rare opportunity and a unique way to engage with the 10k, and he says he’s looking forward to the experience: “I’ll plan to do some fun stuff on RVA Coffee Stain social media leading up the race…. this will be really cool.”

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Arts & Entertainment

The world is coming to Richmond for the Menuhin Competition – the “Olympics of Violin” – this May

The world is coming to Richmond from May 14-24, 2020 for the Menuhin Competition, the world’s leading international competition for young violinists. This Competition, called the “Olympics of the Violin,” is held every two years in different cities around the world.

RVAHub Staff

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The world is coming to Richmond from May 14-24, 2020 for the Menuhin Competition, the world’s leading international competition for young violinists. This Competition, called the “Olympics of the Violin,” is held every two years in different cities around the world. Richmond is set to be the host city in 2020—only the second time that the Competition has been held in the U.S.

The Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 will showcase the exceptional talents of 44 competitors: 22 Juniors ages 15 and under, and 22 Seniors from ages 15-21. A record 321 candidates from 32 countries and five continents applied by the Oct. 31 deadline, and the 44 global competitors were announced in January. One of the competitors is from Virginia, Kayleigh Kim.

For 11 days in May, Richmond will be transformed into a celebratory festival of music with competitions, performances, master classes and concerts in several music genres throughout the region. Co-hosts are the Richmond Symphony, the City of Richmond, the University of Richmond, VCU and VPM.

The first round events at Camp Concert Hall at the University of Richmond are free to the public, but a ticket is required for admission and can be requested here. Semi-final rounds will be held at the W.E. Singleton Center at VCU, and final rounds will be held at the Dominion Energy Center downtown.

For more information about the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020, including dates, times, venues and tickets for all of the events, visit the website.

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Business

Richmond-based company launching digital TV streaming network today with event at VMHC

Richmond-based Soulidifly Productions will launch the new streaming TV network today and is throwing a launch party tonight in celebration.

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Richmond based Soulidifly Productions is launching a new digital TV streaming network today known as SoulVision.TV. The new network will feature over 200 hours of “authentic, positive, and often untold human stories shown in feature films and movies, TV shows, news, interviews, cartoons, and more,” according to a news release.

The network will be accessible from all devices including all leading streaming platforms – Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire – and on all mobile platforms, tablets and other devices including smart TVs and home computers.

Entertainers Cecily, Carla Jackson, JJ Squire, and vocalist Imani Waters will headline an event this evening at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture ahead of the network’s launch.

The event takes place beginning at 6:30 PM at the museum at 428 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Tickets are $20; $10 for students. Attendees can also get complimentary tickets by entering code “SVTV” on the ticketing page.

Learn more and get tickets here and check out a preview of the new network below.

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