Richmond, Virginia - August 2020
I hadn’t been to my hometown in quite some time so I was eager to see the state of the statues on Monument Ave. To say the least, I was surprised at the "colorful" transformation. Indeed, #BLM has awakened Richmonders.
Growing up, we African Americans were aware of the true meaning of the street's "tributes." Mostly, we just didn't look up as we traveled the street named for monuments of Civil War Confederate veterans.
(I could say more, but since my goal now is to document this movement, I won't.)
It's 2020 and things have changed.
As with other urban capitals, the death of George Floyd in May was the impetus for the recent movement for justice in Richmond. While #blm actually launched in 2013, this time has felt and looked different. People of all shades, ages, and stages of life are participating in the movement.
I spoke with a few people, including a White couple who were appalled at the state of things, curiosity seekers, families with babies in strollers, and one couple preparing to plant a garden.
I spotted Derrick and I watched him for a while before I approached. He's a videographer and photographer seeking, like me, to document this chapter of our nation's history.
Derrick says, "it was time. The movement was timely for our people to stand up for what we believe in against oppression for our people since we came to this land. I believe we have something to say, I believe we said it, and we’ll continue to speak on the matters that are dear to our heart and to our community."
I also spoke with this woman who's visiting from the city where George Floyd died.
"As a visitor from Minnesota, this is interesting that this was a monument in the first place. I love the art and it’s really powerful when you come here and think about all the changes.
"Coming from Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd died, it really nice that the country is coming together and we’re all looking for the same thing."
Anne was eager to share her true feelings with Robert E. Lee.
As I drove the street, it was hard to miss the statues downed and / or decorated by the movement.
The monument to tennis legend Arthur Ashe, however, currently has no markings.
I was told that in June a man was spotted painting WLM, and it was soon replaced by letters BLM.
Monument Ave in Richmond, Va .... definitely transformed.