Friday, August 25, 2017

Announcement by Mayor Levar M. Stoney on the Monument Avenue Commission

After consultation with the chairpersons of the Monument Avenue Commission, Richmond Police Department, local and state officials and members of the Richmond community, I have decided to postpone the previously scheduled Sept. 13 public meeting of the commission, with a plan to reschedule in October.

This decision is made in the interests of public safety, and to allow for a restructuring of the commission’s engagement with the public, promoting accessibility and constructive dialogue so more voices can be heard.

We will provide additional information on the next steps of the Monument Avenue Commission in the coming weeks. Please continue to offer your input and suggestions through the website,

I remain deeply grateful to the members of the commission for their commitment and courage to take on this challenging and important work.

Monday, August 21, 2017

RVA Education Compact Passes Unanimously

Mayor Levar M. Stoney is pleased to announce the unanimous passage of resolutions by both the Richmond Public School Board and City Council establishing the RVA Education Compact.

Passage of the Compact marks the first time the RPS Board, City Council and administration have entered into a formal agreement to work together to develop collaborative solutions addressing the needs of our school children both inside and outside of the classroom.

“We took a significant step today toward improving public education in the City of Richmond,” said Mayor Stoney.

“I’d like to thank all the members of City Council and School Board for their commitment to this collaborative process, as well as the public who participated and offered their feedback and comment on previous drafts over the last several months. 

“I look forward to working with the council and board on shared strategies to drive down child poverty while lifting up academic performance in our schools.”

Mayor Stoney has directed his senior policy advisor for opportunity, Dr. Thad Williamson, to work with Interim Superintendent Thomas Kranz to develop and finalize an operating plan for the Compact, including a detailed schedule of meeting dates and timeline for action. That plan will be made available to the City Council and School Board at each body’s next schedule meetings.

It is anticipated the first joint quarterly meeting between the mayor, council and board will take place in September, with the first formal meeting of the Richmond Children’s Cabinet also taking place then.
The Education Compact stakeholder team is expected to be finalized by the end of September as well, with its first meeting due to take place in October.

The mayor’s office will continue working over the next month to establish a dedicated website for the Compact to host all documents, data and relevant information.

Copies of the mayor’s remarks to the joint meeting of the City Council and School Board can be found here. Copies of the resolutions approved can be found here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mayor Levar M. Stoney Statement on Monument Avenue

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.