My father, daughter, Eleanor, and I took a walk around Virginia’s Capitol Square in Richmond this morning. Having grown up in Richmond, I haven’t been back for a while–it was good to be back on the grounds surrounding the Thomas Jefferson designed building.
The weather couldn’t have been more beautiful as we walked by the impressive 1858 Washington Memorial, as well as memorials to Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Dr. Hunter McQuire. There are a number of other memorials there as well–you should go visit.
To me, the most impactful memorial was the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial. Dedicated in 2008, it presents a clear and definitive counter-point to the older memorial to Harry F. Byrd, Sr., the creator of and leader of “massive resistance” to Civil Rights.
Byrd’s Memorial, already seeming rather mundane due to its proximity to the epic George Washington Memorial, is also dwarfed by the Civil Rights Memorial.
The quotation from Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall above one of the four sides to the memorial creates an essential challenge for us–particularly in a moment when so much is happening that seems to pull us apart:
“The Justice System can force open doors and sometimes even knock down walls, but it cannot Build Bridges. That Job belongs to you and me.”
We will be in Richmond until Saturday enjoying Thanksgiving with family, but I know I will take Marshall’s challenge home with me. When I reflect on Marshall’s words, I think of people who are doing this work. Who is on your list?