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National PBS travel series to feature Richmond's Black history & art

Good Road Valerie Cassel Oliver
The Good Road Co-Host Earl Bridges asks curator Valerie Cassel Oliver about the mission of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts within the community. [Photo Credit: Andrew Duensing]

The Emmy-nominated PBS travel series, The Good Road, will feature Richmond’s Black history and art for their second season premiere this Monday, October 4.

Hosts, best friends and “philanthropologists” Earl Bridges and Craig Martin travel the world over to bring viewers the beauty and culture of far-away places, as well as the stories of people trying to make their world better. While season one took the duo to beautiful locales such as Tanzania and Thailand, this season, the pandemic challenged the team to find good stories and Good Samaritans closer to home.

“In a lot of ways, the pandemic refocused Earl and I to acknowledge that people in the United States want local stories as well,” explained Martin. “While Earl and I love heading to exotic locations, the U.S. audience really does want to know what's happening in Richmond or Charleston.”

In the first episode, Richmonders Ace Callwood and Zane Gibbs take the crew on a trip down the city’s recently de-statued Monument Avenue. They discuss the significance of the Richmond protests in response to the police murder of George Floyd and the corresponding messages and images painted on the pedestals of Confederate monuments.

"The Good Road places Richmond at the epicenter of change and the future of racial equity,” says Gibbs, CEO and Co-Founder of Zada Strategy. “It is my hope that the show will catalyze leaders from around the country to turn to Richmond for ideas and innovative approaches to transformative social change.  We [Richmond] can and should be the world leader for innovative approaches to racial equity." 

Bridges and Martin also speak with Valerie Cassel Oliver, Curator for Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, about the museum’s 2019 installation of Kehinde Wiley’s statue, Rumors of War, as well as Wiley's inspiration for the sculpture when he visited Richmond in 2016.

The episode closes with a look at the historic Lumpkin’s Jail site – also known as the Devil’s Half-Acre - through the augmented reality of Hidden in Plain Site: Richmond. HiPS’ founder and CEO, Dontrese Brown walks Bridges and Martin through the difficult and often horrific history of the jail and burial ground, once covered by a parking lot in Shockoe Bottom.

Virginia will also be featured a second time this season, exploring the Commonwealth’s identity, ecology, and Black entrepreneurship. The six remaining episodes will focus on Puerto Rico, Myanmar (Burma), and Bridge’s hometown of Charleston, South Carolina.

As in last season, The Good Road will bring to light the intersectionality of some of the most difficult issues plaguing our global communities – poverty, racism, LGBTQ inequity, gender bias, and climate change – and they will highlight those in the community who do what they can to lift up their neighbors and create positive change. By telling these stories, Bridges and Martin hope to inspire people to do what they can to create positive change as well.

“We want somebody in a cubicle sitting somewhere in some office watching our show to say, ‘I can do this,’” explains Martin. “To catch a glimpse of what we can, within our immediate power, change and fix and make better.”

The Good Road, season two starts Monday, October 4 at 9:00 p.m. on VPM World. Viewers may also stream it through PBS Passport.

(Corrected to remove Valerie Cassel Oliver's mention of the VMFA's Dirty South exhibit.)