Maggie L. Walker monument plaza plans approved

Moving forward, slowly.

Update #3 — July 19, 2016; 11:39 AM

According to the RTD last night the Richmond Planning Commission on Monday unanimously approved the design of a memorial plaza. The vote and process was not without it’s own controversy.

Sarah Driggs, a member of the art commission, though speaking in favor of the plaza Monday, expressed dismay that the city administration “ignored and manipulated our process.”

“We hope that we will all learn from this,” she said.

Other art commission members have said the project was fast-tracked to try to finish it before Jones leaves office and could compromise other public art projects.

As you can see from the latest image above there have been some tweaks to the design since February.

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Update #2 — February 22, 2016; 11:14 AM

You can get a feel for the design through the images below which are part of this Maggie L. Walker Presentation (PDF).

maggie walker statue1



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Update #1 — January 6, 2016; 10:49 AM

Meeting to discuss the future of the plaza:

Please join the City of Richmond’s Public Art Commission, Public Artist Toby Mendez and the design team to explore ideas for the urban plaza at Adams and Broad St. This will be an excellent opportunity for community members to give input for their vision for the plaza that will be the home of a public art project to honor Maggie L. Walker.

You can register to attend here.

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Original — October 13, 2015

Today, Mayor Jones announced a new monument commemorating Maggie L. Walker that’s headed to the intersection of Broad and Adams. You may have noticed that the intersection of Broad and Adams–which, with Brook Road, forms a neat little triangle1 destined to become a “new plaza and gathering space”–is not Monument Avenue. That particular Rue de la Statue, for better or worse, was not the goal for this monument, which has been in the works for a while (PDF). The City’s Public Art Commission focused exclusively on sites in Jackson Ward within walking distance of the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site.

Here’s a presentation made back in June of 2014 (PDF) that’ll give you a bit of insight into the process, and here are the findings of their public meetings (PDF). You can dig up a few more PDFs over on the Public Art Commission’s website.

The artist chosen for this monument is Antonio Tobias “Toby” Mendez. I rather like his Gandhi.

Construction on the plaza / gathering space begins this fall. The full press release from the city follows.

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Mayor Dwight C. Jones and the City’s Public Art Commission (PAC) announced today a new monument commemorating Maggie L. Walker that will be created by artist Antonio Tobias “Toby” Mendez. The Public Art Commission worked with a Site Selection team of neighborhood leaders and stakeholders to choose the artist and the location that would best reflect the important legacy of Maggie L. Walker and her contributions to the City of Richmond. The monument will be integrated into a new plaza and gathering space on Broad Street at North Adams Street.

The Maggie L. Walker monument will become embedded as a landmark in the City’s Downtown Arts District. “Not only will Richmond gain an important new monument that can reflect the diverse heritage and history of a significant local hero, but this effort will also underscore her role as a champion for civil rights on the national landscape,” said Mayor Jones. “Maggie Walker was a revolutionary leader in business, a champion for breaking down barriers between communities and showed incredible strength as a person that came out of extraordinarily challenging circumstances to create great things.”

Maggie L. Walker devoted her life to civil rights advancement during the Jim Crow-era. Maggie Walker’s home and business — where she broke ground as the first woman of any race to found a bank — are located within walking distance of the planned monument site. The downtown Broad Street location is also symbolic as that corridor once served as a divider between historically racially segregated neighborhoods. The new monument, targeted for completion in the fall of 2016, will serve as a gateway to the historic Jackson Ward community and the new home of the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia at the historic Leigh Street Armory.

The Public Art Commission led an extensive community process that asked the public what elements of Maggie Walker’s life should be reflected in the art work. The images of her strength, perseverance and dedication to empower and educate were all consistent themes that will be reflected in the new monument.

Artist Toby Mendez said, “I see my role as a story teller or a director in search of a good story. I have had the luck to create monuments to Thurgood Marshall and Gandhi. Maggie Walker is in that realm, a person who did so many great things. Her story is not just one story as she was a pioneer on several levels; a business person, a banker, a teacher and an innovator when it came to creating significant jobs for women in the community. She did this with every stumbling block placed in her path. As an artist, this is the story you want to tell.”

Sarah Driggs, chair of the Maggie Walker Memorial team of the Public Art Commission shared that, “Richmond has been proud of Maggie Walker for generations. It is about time that we raised a monument to honor and share this strong woman’s messages of economic literacy and the power of community.”

  1. Called Lone Pine Park. 
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Ross Catrow

Founder and publisher of RVANews.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Janine Lester on said:

    Is the purpose of your aerial view, superimposing Ms. Walker over the site, a deliberate effort to hide the fact that a large, healthy tree, which the city plans to bulldoze, is currently growing at this location? THAT is the real story here; there is no necessity to remove the tree for construction of this plaza. Most people don’t know about this tree, or it’s planned destruction, and they are opposed to removing the tree once they learn of the plan to cut it down.

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