Enrichmond article ‘is inaccurate and misleading

2/2/2023, 6 p.m.
Jeremy Lazarus’ Jan. 26, 2023, article, “It’s complicated” is a one-sided story that provides little clarity.

Jeremy Lazarus’ Jan. 26, 2023, article, “It’s complicated” is a one-sided story that provides little clarity.

This article contains inaccuracies and misleading statements, including the assertion that John Mitchell joined Enrichmond in 2021. However, according to Enrichmond’s IRS form 990 filings, Mr. Mitchell appears to have joined the board in 2017. This makes Mr. Mitchell partially accountable for Enrichmond’s collapse, yet the article does not pursue this line of questioning.

Mr. Lazarus also fails to provide context for the city’s revocation of Enrichmond funding, stating that this action “further undermined” the nonprofit. This implies that the city’s decision was unwarranted. On the contrary, for years, many descendants have highlighted Enrichmond’s lack of meaningful community engagement and poor cemetery stewardship. Enrichmond’s history of mismanagement is further evidenced by the city’s decision in July 2019 to take back control of the 17th Street Market after local vendors spoke about being neglected or pushed out by Enrichmond.

The article also states that Mr. Mitchell’s “foundation has secured an agreement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF)...” However, there are no details about the scope, duration or amount of funding from either Mr. Mitchell or VOF. VOF provided substantial funding to Enrichmond despite concerns raised by descendants and others about Enrichmond’s inadequate stewardship. Given this prior criticism, and the potential use of tax dollars, it is imperative that we know the details of any agreement VOF has made to fund activities at East End and Evergreen cemeteries.

It is disappointing that Mr. Lazarus seemingly did not think this story warranted interviews with other descendants and community members. We agree that East End and Evergreen are vital parts of Richmond’s history that must be preserved. To properly take on that task requires input from the broader descendant and African-American communities to determine the future of these sacred spaces. It requires a proper accounting of what failed previously in order to ensure a successful path forward which is open, transparent, and inclusive.

To ensure openness and transparency, the public depends on media institutions like the Richmond Free Press to thoroughly and accurately shine a light on issues. It is unfortunate that “It’s complicated” does not meet that standard.

The Descendants Council Of Greater Richmond Virginia