Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mayor Levar M. Stoney Statement on Monument Avenue


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When I spoke about the monuments earlier this summer, it was from an optimism that we can take the power away from these statues by telling their true story, for the first time.

As I said in June, it is my belief that, as they currently stand without explanation, the confederate statues on Monument Avenue are a default endorsement of a shameful period in our national and city history that do not reflect the values of inclusiveness, equality and diversity we celebrate in today’s Richmond. 

I wish they had never been built. 

Still, I believed that as a first step, there was a need to set the historical record straight. That is why I asked the Monument Avenue Commission to solicit public input and to suggest a complete and truthful narrative of these statues, who built them and why they were erected. 

When it comes to these complicated questions that involve history, slavery, Jim Crow and war, we all must have the humility to admit that our answers are inherently inadequate. These are challenges so fundamental to the history of our country, commonwealth, and city that reducing them to the question of whether or not a monument should remain is, by definition, an oversimplification. 

But context is important in both historical, and present day, perspectives. While we had hoped to use this process to educate Virginians about the history behind these monuments, the events of the last week may have fundamentally changed our ability to do so by revealing their power to serve as a rallying point for division and intolerance and violence. 

These monuments should be part of our dark past and not of our bright future. I personally believe they are offensive and need to be removed. But I believe more in the importance of dialogue and transparency by pursuing a responsible process to consider the full weight of this decision. 

Effective immediately, the Monument Avenue Commission will include an examination of the removal and/or relocation of some or all of the confederate statues.

Continuing this process will provide an opportunity for the public to be heard and the full weight of this decision to be considered in a proper forum where we can have a constructive and civil dialogue.

Let me be clear: we will not tolerate allowing these statues and their history to be used as a pretext for hate and violence, or to allow our city to be threatened by white supremacists and neo-Nazi thugs. We will protect our city and keep our residents safe.

As I said a few weeks ago, our conversation about these Monuments is important. But what is more important to our future is focusing on building higher-quality schools, alternatives to our current public housing that provide dignity and safety for all, and policies to provide opportunities for all Richmonders to succeed.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Public Schedule of the Mayor: August 16 - 18



Wednesday, August 16

11 a.m.        Mayor to attend special announcement at Kings Dominion
                   16000 Theme Park Way
                    Doswell, VA

11:30 a.m.   Brown Bag Lunch with Department of Public Utilities
                    400 Jefferson Davis Highway
                    Closed Press

2:30 p.m.     Mayor to deliver remarks at Mayor’s Youth Academy closing event
                    101 E. Franklin St.

Thursday, August 17

10 a.m.       Mayor to participate in Hillside Community Walk
                   1500 Hardwood St.

Friday, August 18

10 a.m.       Mayor to deliver remarks at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of  Education Opening Convocation
                   Eugene P. and Lois Trani Center for Life Sciences Building
                  1000 W. Cary St.

11 a.m.       Mayor to attend the funeral of Virginia State Trooper Berke Bates
                  Saint Paul’s Baptist Church
                  4247 Creighton Rd.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mayor Stoney Announce Formation of the Monument Avenue Commission


Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced the formation of an ad hoc advisory group, the Monument Avenue Commission, to help the city redefine the false narrative of the Confederate statues that line Richmond’s grandest boulevard.

The commission will be tasked with soliciting public input and pooling its collective centuries of experience in history, art, government culture and community to make recommendations to the mayor’s office on how to best tell the real story of our monuments.

“It’s our time; it’s our responsibility to set the historical record straight on Monument Avenue’s confederate statuary,” Mayor Stoney said.

“Equal parts myth and deception, they were the ‘alternative facts’ of their time – a false narrative etched in stone and bronze more than 100 years ago – not only to lionize the architects and defenders of slavery – but to perpetuate the tyranny and terror of Jim Crow and reassert a new era of white supremacy. 

“It is my belief that without telling the whole story, these monuments have become a default endorsement of that shameful period – one that does a disservice to the principles of racial equality, tolerance and unity we celebrate as values in One Richmond today.”

Mayor Stoney has also charged the commission with exploring the possibility of adding new monuments to Monument Avenue.

“I think we should consider what Monument Avenue would look like with a little more diversity,” the Mayor said.

“Right now, Arthur Ashe stands alone -- and he is the only true champion on that street.”

To guide this process, the mayor has assembled a diverse and experienced team of experts – historians, artists, authors and community leaders.

The Mayor has appointed Christy Coleman, CEO of the American Civil War Museum, and Gregg Kimball, Director of Education and Outreach for the Library of Virginia, to serve as Monument Avenue Commission co-chairs.

Click here for a list of other commission members and city staff assigned to assist the commission, which will also work with David Ruth, Superintendent of Central Virginia for the National Parks Service, who will advise regarding this National Landmark Historic District.

Two public meetings will be held over the next 90 days. Dates, times and locations will be announced next week. Residents will also be able to offer suggestions on the website, monumentavenuecommission.org.

When he ran for office, Mayor Stoney said the Confederate statues required context – that is, an explanation of what they actually are: who built them, why they were built and how they came to preside over the culture of this city. Today’s commission announcement is the first step in fulfilling that promise.

“The best way to change hearts is to educate minds,” he said.

The Mayor also suggested another strategy to balancing the historical ledger in Richmond.

“These are all important projects, and important symbols that help educate and build a bridge to understanding a more complete history,” the Mayor said.

“Let’s make our next monument a new school. A new community center. An alternative to public housing that restores dignity and pride of place,” he said.

“America’s history has been written and rewritten and our struggle with race in this country persists, not because monuments rise or fall, but because, fear makes people falter,” the Mayor continued.

“What lasts, however – the legacy that will endure – are the people we build, the minds we enlighten and nurture, and the hearts we open on both sides.

“If we can do that, then we will not just have a few new monuments. We will have thousands – living monuments to understanding, inclusiveness, equality and promise,” the Mayor added. “They are the ones who will know the difference between myth and fact, embrace just causes, not lost causes, and they will write the next chapter in the history of our city.

“Setting the record straight on Monument Avenue is one very important step on the road to One Richmond.”

Background:

Richmond is unique among cities in many respects in how it has handled its complex and conflicted Civil War and Civil Rights history.

It was the capital of the Confederacy and the home of the first African-American Governor in the United States – L. Douglas Wilder, in 1989.

A statue of segregationist state senator Harry Flood Byrd sits on Capitol square less than 100 years away from the Civil Rights memorial honoring Prince Edward County student Barbara Johns, whose brave protests for equal treatment in education helped bring about school desegregation in the commonwealth.

We have expanded the conversation and understanding of history and erected the statue, “Reconciliation,” acknowledging this city’s role in the Triangle Slave Trade in Shockoe Bottom.

A statue of Abraham Lincoln and his son Tadd stands next to the American Civil War Museum, the only museum dedicated to telling the story of the Civil War from multiple perspectives: Union and Confederate, enslaved and free African Americans, soldiers and civilians.

Next month the city will dedicate a new statue of Richmond’s own Maggie Walker on Broad Street, and next year, an emancipation statue will be commemorated on Brown’s Island.

It is also moving forward developing a plan to commemorate the Devil’s Half Acre and Negro Burial Ground along Shockoe Creek.

History:

The statues on Monument Avenue were erected between 1890 and 1919, as the rights of African-Americans were being systematically removed.

In 1867, 105,832 African American men were registered to vote in Virginia, and between 1867 and 1895, nearly 100 black Virginians served in the two houses of the General Assembly or in the Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868.

But in 1876, two constitutional amendments were ratified in Virginia that instituted a poll tax, disfranchising men convicted of petty offences, and the number of registered voters plunged.

By the turn of the century, as Jim Crow took hold, there were no more black legislators in Virginia until 1968.

Click here for the full remarks as prepared for the Mayor.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mayor Stoney Releases Draft Education Compact Resolution, Sets Joint Meeting


On behalf of the Education Compact working group, Mayor Stoney is pleased to release the current working draft of the Education Compact Resolution. This Resolution updates and revises the initial draft Education Compact documents released in February 2017.

The draft Resolution specifies the content and purpose of the Education Compact, with a focus on establishing a collaborative framework aimed at addressing the needs of schools, children and families. The attached document is in the form of a proposed School Board resolution; it is anticipated City Council will consider a parallel resolution. This document is a draft and is subject to change.

A special joint meeting of Richmond City Council and the School Board will be held on Monday, June 26 at 3 p.m. at the Library of Virginia for the purposes of discussing the draft resolution. No official action on the resolution will be taken at that meeting.

In addition to the draft Compact resolution, please also see the attached explanatory “Readers’ Guide” addressing common questions concerning the Compact.

Mayor Stoney and the Education Compact working group thank all residents who have taken time to attend one of the 12 Education Compact meetings and provide feedback on the initial Compact proposal.

Click here to view the Education Compact Draft School Board Resolution.

Click here to view the Reader's Guide to the Revised Education Compact Resolution and FAQs.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Mayor Stoney Names Melvin D. Carter as Chief of Fire and Emergency Services


Mayor Levar M. Stoney is pleased to announce that former Deputy Fire Chief Melvin D. Carter will serve as the City of Richmond’s 21st Chief of Fire and Emergency Services.

A native Richmonder, Carter joined the Richmond Department of Fire in 1987 and rose through the ranks, serving as a company lieutenant, captain, deputy fire marshal, and battalion chief. In 2009, he was appointed deputy fire chief.

He began his career as a volunteer firefighter for the Henrico County Division of Fire starting in 1983. In 1986, he worked as a professional firefighter with the City of Petersburg Fire Department.

Carter is a member of Virginia’s National Guard leads educational sessions for local Boy Scout troops in his spare time.

“Chief Carter’s work ethic, commitment to excellence and decades of experience in our City’s fire service make him the right choice for this important position,” said Mayor Stoney. “I am confident he will serve Richmond’s residents well.”

“It is a privilege and an honor to have this opportunity to lead Richmond’s bravest in my hometown,” said Chief Carter.

Chief Carter succeeds Interim Richmond Fire Chief David I. Daniels, who joined the department in 2015 as a deputy chief and served as the city’s top firefighter for the last four months.

“I am grateful to Chief Daniels and the City of Richmond thanks him for his steady leadership and service during this important transition period for the fire department,” said the Mayor.
 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Mayor Stoney Names Bobby Vincent, Jr. as Director of Public Works


Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced former Public Works Deputy Director of Operations, Bobby Vincent, Jr., will now serve as the Director of Public Works.

Vincent began his career at the Department of Public Utilities in 1992 as an engineer. For 14 years he served in that role, managing and planning the preventive maintenance and capital improvement projects concerning water and wastewater treatment plants, as well as the combined sewer system.

“It is an honor to be named Director of Public Works by Mayor Stoney,” said Mr. Vincent. “I am looking forward to taking on the key areas of improvement needed within DPW, as recently outlined in the VCU performance review of City Hall.”

Vincent has served in numerous leadership roles, including as Operations Manager of the Roadway Maintenance Division, Interim Director of General Services, and Chief of Construction and Inspections. Most recently, Vincent served the Department of Public Works as the Deputy Director of Operations. In this role, Vincent oversaw the Divisions of Solid Waste, Grounds Maintenance, Urban Forestry, Roadway Maintenance, Street Cleaning and CIP Paving.

In total, Vincent has served the Richmond Department of Public Works for 25 years. “We could not have a more qualified or experienced person fill this important position,” said Mayor Stoney. “I am very pleased Bobby accepted this appointment.”

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Mayor Stoney Releases Education Compact Update



Richmond residents want a City in which RPS students are achieving at high levels, and in which fewer and fewer children live in poverty.  As part of his commitment to achieving that goal, Mayor Levar M. Stoney is pleased to provide the following update on the Education Compact process:

Back in January, both the City Council and School Board unanimously adopted a resolution to work with Mayor Stoney to develop a more collaborative approach to public education, known as the Education Compact.

Draft Education Compact documents were released in February.

A total of 12 public meetings, in all nine Council districts, were held between March 27 and May 17. On the basis of public input received on the Compact documents, a final resolution is now being drafted for introduction to Richmond City Council and the School Board.

The final Education Compact resolution will recommend three key collaborative actions:

  • Regular, quarterly joint meetings of City Council and the School Board, along with City of Richmond and RPS administrations.
  • Creating a Richmond Children’s Cabinet of key administrative agencies within Richmond Public Schools and agencies in the City of Richmond impacting the lives of children.
  • Establishing an Education Compact Team, comprised of representatives from School Board, City Council, RPS administration, City of Richmond administration and community stakeholders. This team will examine and make non-binding recommendations on key issues, such as long-term funding of the operating and capital needs of schools.
“This collaborative work is essential to achieving improved academic outcomes as well as significantly reducing and offsetting the impact of child poverty,” said Dr. Thad Williamson, Mayor Stoney’s Senior Policy Advisor for Opportunity.

Williamson said that as the work of the Compact progresses, detailed proposals for addressing funding issues and for articulating specific shared goals (academic and non-academic) will be developed with the input of all stakeholders and the new Superintendent of Schools.

“When Richmond Public Schools succeed, the City of Richmond succeeds,” said Mayor Levar M. Stoney. “For many children in Richmond, their RPS education is the best or even only opportunity they will have to develop their full potential and realize their dreams."

"That’s why we’re taking this important step as a community to positively impact both the quality of education in the classroom and the quality of children’s lives outside of the classroom. The unprecedented level of public input by students, parents, teachers and others invested in public education, as well as the collaboration between our School Board and Council over the last five months, has established a solid foundation for the next leader of our school system to make the transformative change RPS needs and our students deserve." 

“The Education Compact is the first step in coming together as a community and getting serious about making real change,” the Mayor said. “Our children can’t wait, and our community can’t wait, for us to get down to this important work.”