29 Jan 2022 By travelpulse
As we enter February and begin recognizing Black History Month, one destination stands out with a purpose-driven focus on preserving and showcasing Black history around the city: Richmond, Virginia.
Once one of the epicenters of the slave trade in North America, Richmond is today becoming a vibrant epicenter for Black culture, community and history. One organization helping to showcase this side of the region is BLK RVA, a collaboration between Richmond Region Tourism and over twenty community leaders.
Working to increase tourism and help Black-owned businesses grow, BLK RVA's website offers lists of historic sites, restaurants and other attractions in the region that showcase its Black heritage.
"Richmond's history has a strong connection to our country's African American roots and our region is a gateway to Black history, resilience, culture, and success. Richmond was at the center of the domestic slave trade and the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. These points need to be discussed and recognized," said Tameka Jefferson, Community Relations Manager of Richmond Region Tourism, overseeing BLK RVA.
"Richmond is also at the center of African American resilience, entrepreneurism and legacy-building. We are home to Maggie L. Walker, the first African American woman in the U.S. to found a bank. We are home to the Jackson Ward neighborhood, once known as the Harlem of the South. These legacies live on in the form of present day Black community, Black business, and Black culture that is thriving and makes the Richmond Region more vibrant than ever before."
The Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia, the self-guided Richmond Slave Trail, the American Civil War Museum, the Jackson Ward Neighborhood, considered the Harlem of the South, and so many other attractions not only provide people with a greater connection to America's often forgotten past, but they demonstrate the resiliency and the contribution the Black experience in America has on the present day.
The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that once stood on Monument Avenue is now heading to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, while the newly created Emancipation and Freedom Monument stands on Brown's Island by the James River. The two bronze statues that comprise the memorial show a man, woman and infant newly freed from slavery; a powerful reminder of how far we've come.
Besides the historic monuments, Richmond is also rich in art. Hamilton Glass' Mending Walls is a public art project that features murals addressing issues of racial injustice and demonstrating that understanding and collaboration can help move everyone forward into a better tomorrow. Featuring artists of diverse backgrounds and collaborations with local non-profits, the Mending Walls are definitely more than just a fun photo-op.
BLK RVA also showcases several Black-owned businesses and restaurants on its website. C'est Le Vin is a wine bar and art gallery that combines artistic dishes with wine tastings and poetry readings, or live jazz performances by local bands.
Lillie Pearl, owned by chef Michael Lindsey, combines West African and Southern food to create dishes like Obe Ata braised lamb shanks while Ruby Scoops, owned by chef Rabia Kamara, offers natural, handmade ice creams that won "Ben & Jerry's: Clash of the Cones" contest in 2021.
For more information about BLK RVA or Richmond's many attractions, please click here.
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