Richmond Forward’s Name History
We are reclaiming a name that was once used to divide Richmond, and working to reconstruct what past efforts worked hard to divide.
In the 1960s, a white, nonpartisan political organization comprised of City Council members formed to block the growing black majority in Richmond through the annexation of Chesterfield County land. A Richmond Forward member described, this annexation as “designed and approved solely to keep Negro candidates from being elected to city council” (pp. 7). Further history on this version of Richmond Forward can be found in Dr. Julian Hayter’s, “From Intent to Effect: Richmond, Virginia, and the Protracted Struggle for Voting Rights, 1965–1977,” and “Politics of Annexation,” authored by Dr. John Moeser and Dr. Rutledge Dennis.
How We Got Started
The idea and framework emerged from two years (2014-2015) of researching and writing about Richmond on Garet Prior’s blog. The intentions behind this blog were to serve the personal sanity of the author, and to make his mom proud that his words were on the internet.
What ended up happening is that research on topics like education-led economic development or the Academic Improvement Plan, started to gain attention of elected officials and the community. Also, during 2015 the RPS Facilities Task Force was formed and comprised a range of community stakeholders. Many of those who would become the driving force behind Richmond Forward met here.
Then, two major events happened that birthed Richmond Forward:
When the 300-page school facilities plan was completed by the Facilities Task Force and community meetings were being held, there was no online resource with publicly accessible background documents. In effort to provide transparency and translation, the website was formed to post all materials and graphic designer Gabriel Vernon developed this One-Pager.
Elkhardt Middle School was closed in February 2015 due to dangerously high-levels of mold, and a small group from the facilities task force reached out to Area 10 Faith Community who helped provide communications and food to help Elkhardt staff move. Over 40 volunteers responded and CBS6 news provided coverage to raise awareness.
The overwhelmingly positive response solidified in our minds that organizing to improve education and neighborhoods was a major need in Richmond.
In 2016, we experimented from our base as a transparency tool to policy analysis, student expression projects, and advocate training. Please read our exciting 2016 Year 1 recap for more background.
In 2017, we’re focusing our approach to act as a value-added resource of policy analysis and education. We still believe in raising the level of engagement within the community, but will rely on strategic partnerships within communities to “bring more people to the table.” We’re going to focus on what they are eating at the table.