RICHMOND, Va. - As Confederate statues are being removed along Monument Avenue, citizens and those passing by may notice some new historical markers popping up in their place.
The plaques are filled with information about the monuments themselves or the people they honor, while the other side paints a different picture for black people living in Virginia when they were erected.
One of the new signs was placed in the median on Monument Avenue. It reads “Black Richmond in 1919,” another says “reproaching the Jackson monument.” It also has the phrase, “History is Illuminating,” which is also the name of the group behind the markers.
There were also information packets for people to take. Inside the packet, there was a map of where more signs are supposed to be placed.
Some people passing by said the signs are helping educate the city.
“They’re interesting. I’m always up for learning new things. I had no idea of the history of a lot of these monuments,” says supporter Jason St. Peter.
But not everyone loves the idea of the signs. One of the markers at the Maury monument has already been vandalized.
Richmond Parks and Recreation said they do not have anything to do with it.
History is Illuminating sent the following statement in part:
“We are a group called History Is Illuminating; a collective of historians, local artisans, and concerned citizens who believe it is long overdue that the city of Richmond (its government and its citizens) address its history - in its totality.
“Our mission is to provide honest, accurate, and accessible educational material that accurately addresses the history of the Confederate monuments on Monument Avenue, the legacy of slavery, and the Lost Cause narrative - all while highlighting the richness of this city’s black history.
“We love our city and our community. We feel strongly about providing a space where a discourse regarding our history and its impact on society can be had. Especially now as the country is being forced (and rightly so) to address the senseless killing of unarmed black people - proving time and time again that racism is still well-entrenched in our society. We feel it is long overdue that this city confront the legacies left by the Confederate monuments and its monuments to slaveholders and pro-slavery proponents.”
The signs were paid for by members of the group, who are choosing to operate anonymously “in order to ensure that our message remains center focus.”
Here is a look at the markers:
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