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Annie Giles Day called off

Jeremy Lazarus | 8/2/2018, 6 a.m.
Saturday was supposed to be Annie Giles Day in Whitcomb Court. ... But the Aug. 4 event that organizers called ...

Saturday was supposed to be Annie Giles Day in Whitcomb Court.

For the second year in a row, the nonprofit Our Unified Revolution Purpose planned a festival on the first Saturday of August to pay tribute to the late leader of the East End public housing complex with a positive, family oriented event.

OUR Purpose was working with other organizations in planning the community cookout that was to feature free food, music and children’s activities, just like last year.

But the Aug. 4 event that organizers called “a day of love” will not be held. Nor are their plans to hold it in the fall.

The reason, organizers said: The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority informed organizers that that it would not allow Annie Giles Day to be held on its Whitcomb Court property in August.

In a Wednesday email to the Free Press, Orlando Artze, RRHA’s interim chief executive officer, stated that a representative of OUR Purpose met June 29 with Suzette Williams, resident services coordinator for Whitcomb Court to consider the request for Annie Giles Day.

“As a result of that meeting, the representative of OUR Purpose agreed to participate” in the RRHA’s Whitcomb Court community event scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 30, “instead of holding a separate event,” Mr. Artze said.

At a subsequent planning meeting for the Aug. 30 event, OUR Purpose representatives agreed to provide hot dogs, buns and condiments for participants, Mr. Artze stated.

Mr. Artze stated that “at no point did RRHA staff indicate to the representative of OUR Purpose that RRHA policy is to allow only one community day per month at each public housing community.”

A representative for OUR Purpose, who asked not to be identified because of concerns for retribution, said in a Wednesday phone interview that the organization did “willingly agree to participate in the Aug. 30 event, but did so only after being told we would not be allowed to have Annie Giles Day.”

The representative said Ms. Williams did not provide an explanation for refusing to allow the Annie Giles Day celebration. OUR Purpose was only seeking RRHA permission to hold it, the representative said, and was not asking for any money from RRHA or the city. The group, the representative said, planned to cover all the expenses.

The representative said OUR Purpose accepted Ms. Williams’ decision and offered instead to take part in RRHA’s program at the end of August that is to include a back-to-school rally.

“Of course, we wanted to participate in the community day event. That is what we are about,” the representative said.

At this point, RRHA officials have no plans to incorporate the Annie Giles Day name into their Aug. 30 event, according to the OUR Purpose representative, who said it is unlikely OUR Purpose members would want that.