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Richmond Community Groups Hold ‘Unity Walk’, Commemorating March On Washington

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Jabriel Hasan, a member of the Richmond Hill Urban Services Corps, speaks to the crowd before the Unity Walk on Friday night. (Roberto Roldan/VPM)
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More than 100 people walked, many in silence, in a route on Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Along the way, they passed the United Daughters of the Confederacy building, which was burned by protesters earlier this year. (Roberto Roldan/VPM)  
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Lawrence Robinson, a member of Black Lives Matter 804, speaks to the crowd from the steps of the Virginia Museum of History and Culture following the Unity Walk. (Roberto Roldan/VPM)  
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More than 100 people gathered at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture Friday night for a Unity Walk.

It was a commemoration of the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most famous speech, “I Have A Dream.” Thousands of protesters also arrived in Washington D.C. that same night for a march on the National Mall. The Unity Walk was unlike any of the protests Richmond has seen over the past few months. There were no chants as people walked along Arthur Ashe Boulevard. The marchers were asked to quietly reflect on racial justice. 

Rev. Robin Mines, a pastor at Hood Temple A.M.E. Zion Church in the Jackson Ward neighborhood, was in the crowd. She said 57 years after the March on Washington, she sees Black Richmonders facing the same problems.

“You’ve got children living in violence," Mines said. “Every time they hear a bullet they’re scared to play outside. I mean, we have segregated communities still. In some ways, it has gotten worse [rather than] better.”

Another aspect of the Unity Walk that set it apart from recent anti-racist protests in Richmond was the generational diversity. The main organizers of the event were Coming to the Table RVA, whose membership skews older, and Black Lives Matter 804, made up of younger organizers. Richmonders Involved to Strengthen Our Communities (RISC), Richmond Pledge to End Racism, and other social justice groups were also present.

Danita Rountree Green with Coming to the Table RVA said the walk helped bring together different community groups, all with the same goal.

“There is no generation gap when it comes to social justice, there is only a generation bridge,” Green said. “This is our way to show our city that we know how to all get along.”

Once the marchers returned to the history museum, a group of racially and generationally diverse people read excerpts from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Green asked the crowd to think about how they can bring love to the current protest movement. 

“We encourage you to listen to the small voice inside that wants to speak up when you hear a racial slur or microaggression at work,” she told the crowd. “Be willing to teach someone, anyone, another way of thinking, being and doing. This is how you bring love to this fight.”