The March for October

Monuments and Charlottesville

I’ve been trying to put into words the roller-coaster of emotions I’ve experienced this past week, but it’s too raw. The closest I can get is to echo a UVA student who said, “the events of this week were appalling, but not surprising.”  The following words and experiences have given me comfort:

1. “He [Black men] put up the Lee Monument, and should the time come, he’ll be there to take it down.” 

- John Mitchell Jr., editor of The Richmond Planet, writing on the unveiling of the Lee Monument on June 7, 1890.

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Credit this article from a Library of Virginia blog for bringing these words to light. I hope to live and see John Mitchell Jr.’s prophetic words become reality.  

2. My wife and I took our 6-year old goddaughter to play at ARCPark on Saturday. To see kids of all races paying joyfully together almost brought me to tears. It reminder me of this tweet from President Barack Obama, quoting Nelson Mandela, I read earlier in the day.

3. On Sunday at Area 10 Faith Community, my friend and Richmond Forward contributor Maria Tackett, led a prayer for the victims, responders, protestors, and perpetrators of terrorism and white supremacy in Charlottesville. As an African American female Phd. student at UVA, when she came to this last group my heart broke in pieces, shattered in sheer admiration. What strength. What an inspiration as a follower of Jesus to pray for those directly opposed to your existence. Maria, you inspire me with your strength and grace. You are shalom.

4. The UVA students who stood up to white supremacists on Friday night, as the torches outnumbered and surrounded them on all sides.

5. "We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city’s history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations. And unlike when these Confederate monuments were first erected as symbols of white supremacy, we now have a chance to create not only new symbols, but to do it together, as one people. In our blessed land we all come to the table of democracy as equals. We have to reaffirm our commitment to a future where each citizen is guaranteed the uniquely American gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

-  Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans, speaking about the removal of confederate monuments in May 2017.

6. Mayor Stoney’s call to expand the scope of the Monument Commission to include removal. Leave your input for the Richmond monument commission here.

School Facilities

Separate and unequal, segregated, failing school facilities in Richmond are monuments to white supremacy. Each day longer this system is tolerated and perpetuated, they win.

I hope to see the energy behind clearing Monument Avenue of confederates, continue the march and right the wrongs of white supremacy through the deconstruction of barriers created by urban renewal highways, separate but equal education, redlining, disinvested public transportation, criminal justice system, and racist annexation. As well as reforming these systems, we need to relationally-bridge the gap between RVA and Richmond on an individual-level.  

For me, school facilities are the tip of the spear. They are not a silver bullet solution, but a clear civil rights issue as only 8 of 43 operating schools have been constructed (or fully renovated) since post-intentional segregation in Richmond government (1977 election of Richmond majority-black City Council and Mayor Henry Marsh III).

October 16th, a day to remember!

59 days until October 16th.

On July 17th, the School Board voted to direct a sub-committee of four members (Cosby, Menz-Erb, Owen, and Sapini) to review facilities plan and report back to board on October 16th with a plan for action. This committee met on August 10th at Greene Elementary and will meet again next Friday, August 25th at 9:00am at Henderson Middle.

In a best case scenario, we’ll get the following deliverables on October 16th:

  1. Detailed plan of action for the School Board that identifies where new schools will be built or renovated, rezoned, and consolidated to address emergency facility needs.
  2. 5-year finance plan that specifically shows how new construction and the backlog of maintenance needs (approximately $220M) will be funded in the CIP or other sources.
  3. Community engagement plan for action post-October 16th of how school and financing decisions will be finalized for the start of the 18-19 school year.   
  4. Description of how programming (larger school sizes, community schools, K-8 models, etc.) aid facilities investment.

Three important facts:

  • If we don’t get the School Board to agree to a facilities plan with a funding path, then it’s likely we lose the FY18-19 budget. Structural changes needed in the budget for May 2018 are decided in the fall.
  • City Council and the Mayor will NOT allow a overhaul of the CIP to allocate major dollars for new construction without school consolidation on the table.
  • With Paul Goldman and Crusade for Voters referendum on the November 7th ballot, the clock ticking on Mayor Stoney. For him to beat November 7th, he needs to win October 16th.

59 days until October 16th.

In the next 59 days, we need your help with the following:

  1. Repeatedly contacting School Board with your support of moving forward by providing a detailed plan of action for the School Board that identifies where new schools will be built or renovated, rezoned, and consolidated to address emergency facility needs.

  2. Contact Mayor Stoney and City Council with your support to address emergency school facility needs by endorsing a 5-year finance plan that provides approximately $220M through the CIP or other sources.

  3. Join the Richmond Forward Policy & Funding Action Team to help sift through the facilities plan, scour the CIP, research best practices, and advocate for action.

Richmond needs you to stand up against white supremacy. The clock is ticking.

The Compact

There will be a joint meeting between City Council, School Board, and the Mayor on Monday, August 21st, at MLK Middle (1000 Mosby Street) at 5pm to consider RES. 2017-R050 (The Compact). Public comment will be taken, but understand that this appears to be setup as a coronation ceremony. Councilman Agelasto will propose these changes and it's a government meeting, so who knows.

Superintendent Search 

September 12th will be another day of community input on the superintendent search. If you can’t make it to the meetings, be sure to complete this survey.

Richmond 300

I’m going to write more about this in the future, but the Richmond Master Plan update (Richmond 300) has the potential to be the aligning document to guide our city’s future and smash systems of white supremacy. If you want top-level involvement, fill out your Advisory Team application before August 21st!

So far, the Planning Department has only received 22 applications. As you can see from the initial analysis, we’ve got to get southside Richmond on this team.  If you have questions about the Advisory Team, email them or call 646-6348.

Visit the Richmond 300 homepage and like the Richmond 300 Facebook Page.