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Blue Ribbon Commission Provides Update to Charlottesville City Council

Posted: Updated: Sep 20, 2016 09:49 AM
Meeting of The Charlottesville Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces Meeting of The Charlottesville Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces
Don Gathers, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Commission Don Gathers, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Commission
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

The Charlottesville Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces is closing in on what suggestions to make about the future of Civil War memorials in the city.

Commission members have less than two months before they make their final presentation.

The commission provided Charlottesville City Council with an update on where they stand in preserving the city’s racial history during Monday night’s meeting.

The commission’s first progress report outlined how their work along with community input will help them come to some kind of a resolution to honor race and history in Charlottesville. Members say they are also considering data and research from other cities facing similar issues.

“We went down to Richmond to look at what some other groups are doing and the gathering of information from some of the other localities who are dealing with this same issue - Arlington, Baltimore, Danville, and then cities like New Orleans and St. Louis,” said Don Gathers, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Commission.

Commission members have broken into four subcommittees: public engagement, case studies, inventory of historic sites, and historical context and background. "Each one targets a specific agenda to gather information and bring reports back to the entire commission so that we can hopefully diversify and disseminate the information that we have out to the public and to the council so that everyone can see. We're working and trying to do what's going to be best for the citizenry of Charlottesville," said Gathers.

Much of the group's work has focused on creating a solution for Confederate monuments, such as the statue of General Robert E. Lee in Lee Park.

The commission is also trying to keep the history of Vinegar Hill alive. Vinegar Hill is the historically African-American part of town that was effectively bulldozed in the ‘60s.

The commission has gathered for eight meetings since its inception in May, which included opportunities for public comment. It hosted a public forum at the Jefferson School Heritage Center and commissioners visited relevant historic sites via a bus tour.

The commission has worked closely with the Charlottesville’s Historic Resources Committee.

The Charlottesville Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces will hold its next public forum at 6 p.m. Thursday, September 22, at Buford Middle School.

The commission will present its final recommendation in November. The Charlottesville City Council is expected to make a decision in mid-December.