Thursday, December 14, 2017
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Echoes of a Dark Past at Virginia’s Standing Rock: The Atlantic...

by Jonathan Sokolow, an attorney and activist from Reston, Virginia. “The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.”  William Faulkner In March 1865, as the Civil...

Spoons and Small Brushes Not Bulldozers and Backhoes

First African Baptist Church photo 140718FirstAfricanBaptistChurch_1_zps887db9c9.jpgUnfortunately for the preservation of Virginia's African American history, Richmond's Mayor, a man of color and the book, is either morally corrupt or benignly ignorant. Doesn't matter which, the result may be the same. It is not surprising that a typical American does not value the history of a place.

But failure to grasp his own heritage is a mortal flaw. There are a few stories here. The ground under Shockoe Bottom is one. The legacy of what went on there and in Jackson Ward and throughout Richmond is another. That legacy screams for every effort to remedy the high unemployment among blacks in Richmond and the accompanying fratricide. A properly funded and directed school system and full-time employment opportunities should be job one. Instead, places for games that feather already well-healed nests and half million dollar studies of half-cocked ideas consume Richmond City revenues. Great photo ops, though.

"...we are totally opposed to a stadium in Shockoe Bottom. Agreeing to this demand by Mayor Jones and the developers he represents would clearly state the following position: Yes, the history is important, but not so much that we can't play games on top of it. And that would be a continuation of the same disrespect that formed the basis for the acceptance of slavery and the slave trade in the first place." - statement by Phil Wilayto and Anna Edwards of the Sacred Ground Project

Compound this with the arrogant, aloof stance that Richmond is immune from federal Section 106 regulations which is even more insulting than any tea party nullification rant. If Jones were Mayor of Jerusalem, he'd solve that whole Temple Mount thing by razing both al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock then build condos and concessions surrounding a miniaturized, motorized laser show of popular myths: Abraham and alternating sons; Moses (I know, I know, but authenticity is not important) delivering an Ark of the Covenant emanating lightning bolts; Jesus in a fit turning over tables; Mohammad gliding in on his horse; you get it, something for everyone.

Maybe the race to succeed Virginia state Senator Henry Marsh (D-16th) whose former district includes much of Richmond's East End will provide a vehicle for Delegates McQuinn (D-70th), whose current district encompasses less and Dance (D-63rd) whose current district covers none to help crystalize the debate. McQuinn seems to be able to straddle both sides of the issue, which hasn't been helpful and could make it quite a tango for Dance. Both probably believe Jones' endorsement would be to their advantage in the contest. In reality, electoral influence is likely the only reason any politician patronizes Jones. Developers seem to believe there are other purposes.

A Tribute to Staunton-Augusta County Segregation Era Teachers


Two of the striking things during yesterday's event to honor some former Staunton teachers: first, millennials were under-represented; next, the press did not cover it. Those deficiencies will affect politics for the next decade. These heroes of the segregation era and the struggle before equality may become forgotten relics.

"We must remember where we came from." - Sister Patsye Robinson

This was the second celebration of Staunton's teachers from that era: the first was for those who taught in the high school; this one focused on elementary teachers. Some of the honorees crossed through both based upon the needs of the segregated school district. The Staunton-Augusta African American Research Committee (many members are former students of the teachers) organized the efforts to remember them. Looking around the filled church hall at Mount Zion Baptist Church on North Augusta, the relevance of those times seems to only speak to those who lived them and most have or are approaching social security eligibility. That in itself is amazing because to us as students, being that age seemed so very far away when segregation was contemporary. In fact, there were days themselves that seemed like years when the fight for equality was as hot as the Viet Nam War.

"What is the cost of knowing our past? And what is the cost of not?" - Wright Thompson reflecting upon the enrollment of James Meredith at Ole Miss

To paraphrase Steve Allen, tragedy plus time equals humor. A lot of good humor was shared as these former teachers and an administrator passed the mike in turn. That reveals that there was tragedy in bushels to go around during those days but these educators persevered. It only follows that the oldest honoree (recently turned 90) made the most of the fun. How they have all matured with such grace and so little bitterness confounds. But their toil has been rewarded over the years in the pride of watching the children they helped shape grow into adulthood and by the admiring love of their former pupils.