After the killing of George Floyd, Richmond became a focus of international attention considering the city was the former Capital of the Confederacy. The expression of centuries of frustration and disappointment culminated in largely peaceful demonstrations and protests. The anger was not only directed at police, it was directed at the symbols of racism and hate lining Richmond’s historic thoroughfare Monument Avenue. Statues honoring confederates like Jefferson Davis and Lee Monument.
Immediately following the murder of Floyd, Craig reflected with Richmond entrepreneurs Ace Callwood and Zane Gibbs at the Robert E. Lee statue. Conversations with Dontrese Brown, a young, networked black entrepreneur shared his Hidden in Plain Site project (HiPS). Made possible by Dontrese and his two partners Dean Browell and David Waltenbaugh, HiPS marries 360 video with historic images to shed light on famous and infamous sights in Richmond. These sites have all too often been paved over with parking lots.
Additionally, curator Valerie Oliver at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts talks about the impact and importance of Kehinde Wiley’s iconic statue, “Rumors of War” which stands at the front of the museum. The hip-hop inspired replica of the J.E.B. Stuart statue faces Arthur Ashe Boulevard which was recently renamed from The Boulevard. The name change happened with the help of young progressives like Dontrese. The purpose of these alterations is to set aside old and painful reminders of Richmond’s slave past, embracing a positive era of racial reconciliation and hope.