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Results from “Lost Cause” Studio Project Survey Reveal a Richmond Eager to Confront its Past

The survey asked Richmond region residents to share their knowledge about and ongoing impact of the Lost Cause myth, their desire to learn about this complex history and how a transformed Valentine Studio can address community needs.

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From the Valentine.

Today the Valentine released the results of a community survey, conducted in October and November of 2020.

The survey asked Richmond region residents to share their knowledge about and ongoing impact of the Lost Cause myth, their desire to learn about this complex history and how a transformed Valentine Studio (the location on the museum’s campus where sculptor Edward Valentine created many Lost Cause works) can address community needs. More than 1,000 participants, representing a wide variety of perspectives and backgrounds, completed the survey.

A diverse team of historians, activists, local leaders, Valentine family members and community members developed the survey. The Valentine also held focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of the variety of opinions about the Lost Cause, the role of cultural institutions in sharing this history and the potential installation of the damaged, paint-covered Jefferson Davis statue, until recently displayed on Monument Avenue, in the space. The results of the survey and the focus groups will inform and guide the project development.

Results included:

A majority of respondents stated that they would like to see the Valentine use the reinterpreted studio to explore the history of power and policies in Jim Crow Richmond, the art and artistic processes that created Lost Cause sculptures and the history of racial oppression in Richmond.

Additionally, 65% of respondents from the Richmond region agreed that museums should acquire the monuments from Monument Avenue and display them with context. For the Valentine specifically, this reinforced our request to the City of Richmond to acquire and display the graffiti-covered Jefferson Davis statue on his back as he fell.

Additionally, focus group participants, moderated by project partner Josh Epperson, felt that using the studio to explore Lost Cause history and connect it to the present would be a valuable use of the space. Focus group participants also affirmed the Valentine’s commitment to continuing its high level of community engagement, which they expected to be critical to the success of the reimagined studio.

You can find additional survey results HERE.

“Based on the survey feedback we received from our fellow Richmonders, we are confident that this is the best next step for this space and for this institution,” said Director Bill Martin. “We look forward to providing a location where Richmonders can learn about the Lost Cause, consider Richmond and the Valentine’s early role in disseminating the damaging Lost Cause myth and ultimately gain a deeper, more nuanced, more empathetic understanding of the region we call home.”

The Valentine will continue to solicit and address community questions, comments or concerns as the Studio Project develops.

On December 31st the Washington Post had an article on the museum taking a closer look at the role that founder of Edward V. Valentine had in the lost cause.

Today, the artist’s studio is closed to visitors at the Richmond museum that bears his family name — the Valentine. But museum director Martin and others see the workshop as the center of what could be a public reckoning with the racist mythology that Valentine’s sculptures helped bring to life.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Weigh in on Richmond’s New Downtown Plan Tonight

A public meeting is today at 6:00 PM to learn about and share your thoughts on the recently released draft City Center small area plan.

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Details from Partnership for Smarter Growth

Please join us at a public meeting today at 6:00PM to learn about and share your thoughts on the recently released draft City Center small area plan. You can attend the meeting in person at the Greater Richmond Convention Center or online via Microsoft Teams. Go to the PDR website to learn more.
City staff drafted this plan in response to the failed Navy Hill redevelopment proposal, and it encompasses largely the same area, while this time recommending demolition of the Coliseum, without replacement. This isn’t the only big change.
The plan focuses on how to create a vibrant urban neighborhood in an area marked by a number of vacant city owned parcels, and includes proposed improvements to bicycle, pedestrian, and transit infrastructure, at least 20% affordable housing, and new amenities, including a linear park, a pedestrian plaza, and outdoor dining space. Included are protected bike lanes, a new transit transfer center, and a new City Hall at a new location. The latter is quite a surprise to many of us and we would like to learn more. We also want to understand if a Transfer Center located two blocks from the Pulse BRT, makes sense.
To date, the primary input has been limited to online surveys due to the pandemic, so we hope there will be more opportunities for public involvement in planning the future of our downtown.Take a look at the draft plan and see all of the proposed changes in store for the City Center area, and leave comments on the interactive PDF, by following this link
Do you like the public spaces and are they enough? The location of the transit transfer center? Moving City Hall into a new building at a new location?
We hope you can attend tonight and also send in comments. Thank you for your involvement in shaping the future of our city and region.
Screenshot from the Small Area Plan

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Virginia Students Win 1st Place at the National History Day Contest

Forty-nine Virginia students, ranging from grades 6-12 and representing every region of the Commonwealth, competed against over 3,000 students from across the country.

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The Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) is excited to announce results from National History Day’s (NHD) National Contest. Between May 25th and June 16th, 49 Virginia students, ranging from grades 6-12 and representing every region of the Commonwealth, competed against over 3,000 students from across the country. A virtual award ceremony was streamed on Saturday, June 19th to announce winners of 18 contest categories and dozens of special awards.

Virginia History Day is the state affiliate of the National History Day program. Similar to a science fair, but for history, the National History Day Contest was founded in 1974 to inspire students to conduct original historical research. Since its creation, the contest has grown into an international competition with more than half-a-million participants and thousands of dollars in scholarship awards and prizes annually. “Creating a project for the National History Day Contest is challenging. It requires hard work and dedication. But, it also provides great reward,” said Dr. Cathy Gorn, National History Day® Executive Director. “The skills of conducting research and recognizing credible sources are crucial to increasing civic engagement in young people.”

Virginia’s student delegation did exceptionally well at this year’s National Contest. Caroline Bruton and Kayla Shaller, 8th graders from William Monroe Middle in Greene County, placed 1st in the Junior Group Documentary category with their film, “Communicating Through Cell Walls: The Secret Correspondence of American POWs in Vietnam.” Caroline and Kayla investigated the importance of secret communication methods of American POWs during the Vietnam War and how they created a support network that kept their morale up and helped them survive their ordeal. These successful tactics are still taught to American servicemen today.

Also from William Monroe Middle, 6th grader Mukund Marri placed 8th with his documentary, “Navajo Code: The Unbreakable Code,” which told the story of Navajo code talkers during World War II.

From Prince William County’s Mary J. Porter Traditional School, 7th grader Julienne Lim placed 9th in the Junior Individual Website category with her project, “Devil Dog Canines: A Line of Communication in World War II.” Julienne focused on the important role messenger dogs played in sending battlefield communications in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. Additionally, Julienne received the United State Marine Corps History Award. Sponsored by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, this prize is awarded to an outstanding entry that demonstrates an appreciation of Marine Corps history.

Two Virginia projects placed 4th in their categories. Carly Phung, an 11th grader from John Randolph Tucker High in Henrico, received 4th place for her exhibit, “Say Cheese!: How Lewis Hine Used Cameras to Shine a Light Upon Life’s Dark Corners.” Carly explored the impact of groundbreaking reformer and photographer Lewis Hine in the early 1900s. Placing 4th in the Senior Group Website category were Sahil and Sagar Gupta, 11th graders from Thomas Jefferson High for Science and Technology in Fairfax, with their project, “The Story of Walter Gadsden: How One Miscommunication Changed the Course of the Civil Rights Movement.” Sahil and Sagar described the impact a 1963 photo of police brutality had on public perception of the Civil Rights Movement.

Two projects received Virginia’s Outstanding Affiliate Entry Award. In the Senior Division, Georgia and Caroline Berg, 11th graders from Grafton High in York County, received the distinction for their documentary, “The Secret Language of Flowers.” Their project revealed how Victorian era people overcame the social rules that controlled their lives and expressed their true emotions using language surrounding flowers. In the Junior Division, Samhita Som, a 6th grader from Haycock Elementary in Fairfax, received recognition for her paper, “Watergate: The Impact of Communication in Investigative Journalism and Reporting.” Samhita’s paper demonstrated the importance of the Watergate scandal to the world of journalism and the development of new journalistic techniques that are still relied upon by journalists today.

In addition to the success of Virginia’s students, several Virginia teachers received recognition for their hard work. William Monroe Middle teacher Mrs. Stephanie Hammer received the Naval Historical Society’s Teacher of Distinction Award. This award is given to teachers of those students who place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd nationally in their respective categories for projects with a naval or maritime theme. Mrs. Hammer has participated in NHD for more than 10 years and her students always do exceptionally well at all levels of NHD competitions. Mrs. Julie Noble of Richmond’s New Community School and Mrs. Jennifer Goss of Staunton High School were Virginia’s nominees for the Patricia H. Behring Teacher of the Year Award. Both received $500 honorariums for their outstanding contributions to history education and success using NHD in the classroom.

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Community

Neighborhood Clean-Up Saturday in Strafford Hills and Willow Oaks

Get rid of the junk you may have in your trunk, basement, attic or closet.

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Neighborhood Clean-Up this Saturday, June 26 for the Strafford Hills and Willow Oaks area (ZONE 13) from 8 am to Noon. We take EVERYTHING except: electronics, construction debris, hazardous waste items & broken glass. For more details, go to rva.gov/public-works/n

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