Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced he will submit legislation to City Council for its October 8 meeting establishing the Richmond History and Culture Commission.
“I think it is important that a city with such a rich culture and complex history as Richmond have an entity dedicated to understanding, evaluating and advancing its significant sites and landscapes,” said Mayor Stoney.
In recent years, the City of Richmond has undertaken serious efforts to determine how to effectively tell a more holistic and inclusive narrative of its history, from the work of Slave Trail Commission, to the Monument Avenue Commission, to the recent Urban Land Institute Rose Fellowship focus on Shockoe Valley.
“In order to take the next steps forward, we need to create a broad and coherent framework that will seek out the voices of local Richmonders and guide us as we embark upon these important projects,” the mayor added.
Commissions dedicated to historic resources exist in many cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. Fredericksburg and Virginia Beach are among those with similar bodies in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
If approved by city council, the History and Culture Commission would focus on items such as honoring and memorializing the history of Shockoe Bottom, and providing guidance on the recommendations of the Monument Avenue Commission regarding the reinterpretation of the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue, among others.
“This is the latest step in the city’s evolution to understand its past, tell its full story and by doing so, move us forward to a brighter future,” the mayor said.
The 13-member commission would serve as an advisory body to the mayor and be staffed by the Department of Planning and Development Review.
Mayor Stoney’s proposal also calls for two Richmond Public School high school students to serve on the commission, in addition to a member of city council, an assigned staff member and nine appointees.
“It is crucial to have young voices involved in these important conversations,” Mayor Stoney said. “They are the future of the City of Richmond and should have a say in what happens.”