‘We could only hope to live up to the words on the Reconciliation Statue’
8/18/2017, 2:12 p.m.
In the bright sunlight, Richmond’s Reconciliation Statue, unveiled a decade ago by then-Gov. Tim Kaine and seen as an apology for this country’s role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, cast an appropriate shadow upon our sorrow.
Hundreds of us gathered Sunday at the statue. We wanted to send a living sympathy card to the City of Charlottesville, where violence had caused the death of three people and the injury of 19 others. And we wanted to condemn the racism and bigotry that caused this violence.
We listened to speakers, sang “Our God Is An Awesome God,” “America” and “We Shall Overcome,” and prayed.
Delegate Delores McQuinn reminded us that we still had work to do. “Evil has always over-extended itself,” she said. We had to dismantle hate with love, unity, reconciliation, the power of prayer and joining together.
Dr. Cheryl Ivy Green said we had to concentrate on what united us rather than what divided us. She said we ought to be concerned when someone wears a helmet to a peaceful protest.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who had visited the families of the state troopers who lost their lives, found the energy to declare to those who came to hurt us, “Go home!” And, “You only made us stronger.”
He said white supremacists and Nazis were not patriots and that, from the White House to the State House, we had to call out bigotry and refuse to tolerate it.
Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney said although he had often been told he was too young, he was not too young to know the difference between love and hate. He said we had “to send a message that we will march forward for equality” and kick the hate out of our cities and our state.
Congressman A. Donald McEachin said we had gotten here by thinking a person who said he could get away with shooting someone in the street and grabbing women’s private parts would never be elected. “What to do? Go to the voting booth.”
The Rev. Sylvester Turner said conversion started with us looking at ourselves, acknowledging the present and looking to a higher power. He prayed our president would come to understand he is God’s servant, and we would lift President Trump up for God to open his heart.
Dr. Alonza Lawrence was in Charlottesville during the violent rally. “You never want that to come to Richmond,” he said.
In his benediction, he prayed that God would spread blessings over all people and give us the faith and selflessness to go forth in God’s name.
We could only hope to live up to the words on the statue: “Acknowledge and forgive the past. Embrace the present. Shape a future of reconciliation and justice.”