A number of people are ending up at my blog by searching for info about the Reconciliation Statue- and all I have posted is the press release from before the event. So I’ve rounded up all the info I can find about it on the web and I’m putting it all together.
First, my brief relections:
The unveiling ceremony last Friday was a great event. A plethora of politicians showed up, as well as an estimated 5,000 “regular” folks like me. Tim Kaine, Bobby Scott, Bill Pantele, & Delores McQuinn all spoke, as did many other city leaders. A representative from Liverpool spoke as did the ambassador of Benin. Oddly overlooked was the sculptor, who was present, but not acknowledged at all. I won’t speculate on the reasons (although I have my theories…) Also notably absent was Mayor Wilder, who apparently was fundraising for his own project, the National Slavery Museum being built in Fredericksburg.
The statue is 2 people embracing, with panels designed by school children along the bottom. (A link to some photos is below.) The plaza where the statue is sited is triangle shaped, representing the slave-trading triangle of Europe, Africa, and the New World. There’s also a very nice stone slab with water cascading over it (symbolizing the middle passage and the river?) with these words carved into it:
The Benin Region of West Africa
During the 18th Century, these three places reflected on of the well-known triangles in the trade of enslaved Africans.
Men, women and children were captured in West and Central Africa and transported from Benin and other countries. They were chained, herded, loaded on ships built in England and transported through the unspeakable horrors of the Middle Passage.
They were imported and exported in Richmond, Virginia and sold in other American cities. Their forced labor laid the economic foundation of this nation.
I think it’s a great moment for Richmond that we can finally start to both be honest about our past and make symbolic public expresions of hope for a better future. But as several speakers said, it’s just a statue- the hard work to make the statue’s symbolism become a reality belongs to us. And, as a bonus, I think the statue looks nice too.
Here’s info from elsewhere on the web:
Photos: TD photos of the statue and the unveiling ceremony.
I may get around to posting my own photos some day.
Official Webpage: This seems to be a semi-official page about the project. The site’s still under construction, though it has some good background info on the project already up.
Artist’s Webpage: The artist who designed the statue, Stephen Broadbent, has done a tremendous amount of public art in his native England. His webpage details many of his projects, including some background on the statue now in Richmond.
Sponsoring Groups: The groups which made the statue possible include the Richmond Slave Trail Commission (with no web page I could find), Hope in the Cities (which is part of a larger, global non-profit called Initiatives of Change), and Richmond Hill (an ecumenical, inter-racial Christian community that runs a retreat center and prays for the city 3 times daily).
Here’s a reflection from a Liverpool member of Hope in the Cities.
International Coverage: If you want to see how the story’s playing out in the national and international news, here’s a few sources:
WTOP radio, D.C.
The International Herald Tribune
Canoe- Canadian News
At the unveiling I met a photographer from Ebony, a reporter from Jet, and a photographer from Liverpool. None have posted stories yet that I could find, I’ll update in the comments section if/when they do.