Untold RVA and Commemorative Justice

“keepers of the light” diy project by @untoldrva

Commemorative justice” that’s a term that took Free Egunfemi to the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, this past May. She was joined by Havanna Fisher, Robert Sember, and Arielle Brown. Together they presented ways to “activate place-based creative strategies for truth telling and collective healing.”

As I walked along Richmond, Virginia’s Broad Street last Friday, I noticed a flyer pasted to the base of a light fixture. It read, “Call to learn Free Richmond history from #untoldrva.”

In a conversation with Egunfemi this morning, she explained that the #UntoldRVA sign I came across was intended to be temporal. Hence the wear and tear caused by weather and other environmental elements. The signs were installed in 2017, yet they still garner the attention of passersby, prompting them to call 804-277-8116. Code 20# gets you started with the history of Maggie Lena Walker (Image 2) an African American business woman and the first woman to charter a bank in the U.S.

“Keepers of the Light: Maggie Walker” by @untoldrva

Egunfemi’s #untoldrva “Keepers of the Light” signs was a diy project, posted along Broad Street for the 2017 unveiling of the Maggie L. Walker monument. This demonstrates that “commemorative justice” as a practice could be used in communities like the one described in, “Who Deserves a Monument? New Lessons Teach Baltimore Students to Find Strength in City’s History.”

Published in today’s Baltimore Sun, writer Talia Richman uncovers the story of a city well endowed with crime stories and how a social studies class at Holabird Academy is implementing the district’s new “BMore Me” curriculum. Special focus was placed on Baltimore’s Social Studies programming this school year, to encourage middle and high schoolers to probe the history of the place they call home.

When asked, who deserves a monument? Using PowerPoint presentations students revealed the Baltimore hometown heroes they felt needed a monument erected in their name. From Jada Pickett Smith to Thurgood Marshall.

As @untoldrva founder, Free Egunfemi mentioned, it took over a million dollars and a decade to build the Maggie L. Walker Monument. Opportunities like that are tough to come by. Alternatively, resources to achieve campaigns like #untoldrva “Keepers of the Light” should be a bit more accessible. This will give students an opportunity to demonstrate the beauty and brilliance of their city.

Keepers of the Light by @untoldrva

Maybe “commemorative justice” programming is already taking place or is being developed in Baltimore. Either way, may the bright ideas of Baltimore’s young extend beyond their classroom walls.

🖤 #VisitBlackHistory ⚡️

-Sophia

Screenshot of Talia Richman article, “Who deserves a monument.”

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