Jefferson Davis Statue: Building a Better Understanding of Richmond’s History

This op-ed originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

By: Bill Martin, Director of the Valentine

The Valentine needs your help this summer. The Jefferson Davis statue from Monument Avenue is temporarily on display within our core exhibit, “This Is Richmond, Virginia,” while on loan from the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia (BHMVA).

The Valentine is committed to telling a complete story of our city, beyond just its well-known role in the Civil War. The Jefferson Davis statue — shown as it was when we last saw it in 2020 — is unique in its ability to explore so many aspects of Richmond history.

There are many voices around the events of 2020, and we need to hear them. Our mission is to collect, preserve and interpret Richmond stories, and that includes your opinions and ideas.

Like the graffiti left on the Berlin Wall after it was pulled down in 1989, this object showcases a crucial Richmond story at multiple points in time. It was erected as a pristine monument in 1907 and came down splattered in pink paint in 2020. Many different groups contributed in different ways to create the statue as it exists now, and the Valentine is committed to bringing together many different perspectives to build a future we all can be proud of.

This is not just about what happens to the statue. It is about how we can use this object and this moment to inform our future. Your responses to this exhibition will be provided to the city of Richmond as it moves forward with its planning for Monument Avenue, and to the BHMVA to inform the future of all Confederate monuments now in its care.

This significant work by Edward Valentine, the museum’s first president, will be shown in its unrestored form for the next six months. The reality is Confederate monuments have been removed, and there are a wide range of opinions about the events of 2020 that we hope to capture. We must use this moment to build a better understanding of history and figure out the best way forward — together.

There are a lot of difficult conversations ahead of us. So why would the Valentine exhibit this work? Wouldn’t it be easier to just leave the statue in storage?

The short answer is: Yes, it would. But we have a responsibility to focus on this particular object because of the Valentine’s own history and our commitment to telling the complete history of our region. As difficult as this is, we must.

The sculpture studio where Edward Valentine created the statue is located in the garden of the Valentine. Jefferson Davis came to this building in 1873 to have his face measured for a bust. Edward Valentine used those measurements three decades later, after Davis’ death, to create the statue for his monument.

Valentine used his clout and artistic skills to promote the Lost Cause — an effort after the Civil War that denied slavery’s central role in the conflict and glorified Confederates like Davis as heroes facing long odds. His legacy is part of our institution, and we must confront it with clear eyes.

Inside the Valentine, we’ve been talking about the prospect of bringing this statue back for a long time. In 2015, following the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., we committed to a series of exhibitions, programs and challenging conversations in our community.

We also committed to moving the Davis statue to the Valentine, should we get the chance. The Monument Avenue Commission even suggested this move.

Since then, we’ve gathered feedback on how to do this right through surveys, focus groups, events and more. One of those surveys showed us that 80% of you would prefer to see the Confederate statues in museums with appropriate context, rather than displayed in public spaces or destroyed. Now that the Davis statue is in our gallery, we need your input as we continue to move forward.

Your response to Valentine’s statue will provide important documentation of this important moment in Richmond history, begin to move these conversations forward and inform the reinstallation of the Edward Valentine Sculpture Studio, and other future programs and exhibitions.

We hope your summer plans will include a visit to the Valentine. The Valentine is committed to your story and the story of Richmond.

To make sure that everyone has an opportunity to weigh in, we now offer free admission every Wednesday for as long as Jefferson Davis is on display. We also are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you are not able to visit, please fill out this survey and send it along to friends. We look forward to the many important conversations to come.

The Valentine Unveils Temporary Exhibit of Jefferson Davis Statue

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2022

Contact:
Meredith Mason, APR
Director of Public Relations & Marketing
mmason@thevalentine.org

The Valentine Unveils Temporary Exhibit of Jefferson Davis Statue

RICHMOND – The Valentine invites the public to view its newest display, the statue of Jefferson Davis, and give input on an upcoming exhibit, beginning June 22.

The Davis statue was erected in 1907 on Monument Avenue and pulled down by protesters on June 10, 2020. It is now on display within the Valentine’s core exhibit, “This Is Richmond, Virginia,” for at least six months while on loan from the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia (BHMVA). Visitor feedback will inform the Valentine’s interpretation of the Edward Valentine Sculpture Studio, where the Davis statue was created by the museum’s first president.

“This is a critical time to have a conversation about our shared history and light the path forward,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “We want to create a safe space for people to learn, be challenged and confront their assumptions and biases about Richmond’s troubling past. The Edward Valentine Sculpture Studio is an important piece of Richmond history, so it’s crucial for us to hear from the community on how to present complex topics like the Lost Cause and Jim Crow-era racism.”

A survey of community members conducted by the Valentine showed that 80% of respondents want to see Confederate monuments in museums with appropriate context, rather than displayed in public spaces or destroyed. Most of Richmond’s Confederate monuments were recently gifted by the City of Richmond to the BHMVA, which then temporarily loaned the Davis statue to the Valentine.

“This is an important opportunity for Richmonders to process both our recent and past history, and continue the dialogue about how we move from a Confederate past and the Lost Cause, to a righteous cause that realizes an inclusive and equitable future,” said Mayor Levar Stoney. “Conversations that happen around the toppled statue during this exhibit will help inform decisions about the future of public monuments and how we choose to commemorate and express our values as a community.”

To give all Richmonders an opportunity to participate in this conversation, the Valentine now offers free admission every Wednesday as long as the statue is on display.

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ABOUT THE VALENTINE

The Valentine has been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond’s 400-year history for over a century. Located in the heart of historic downtown, the Valentine is a place for residents and tourists to discover the diverse stories that tell the broader history of this important region.

The Valentine Receives NEH Grant for Storage Upgrades

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2022

Contact:
Meredith Mason, APR
Director of Public Relations & Marketing
mmason@thevalentine.org

The Valentine Receives NEH Grant for Storage Upgrades

RICHMOND – On April 13, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced a grant awarding $408,761 to The Valentine for new collection storage materials. The grant will go toward the Valentine Moment Campaign, a yearslong effort to modernize the museum’s storage facilities and strengthen the presentation of Richmond history by analyzing all 1.6 million objects in its collection.

The Valentine received the full amount requested with a 3:1 matching requirement after demonstrating its commitment to preserving local history, addressing complex social issues and engaging diverse audiences. The grant will support a $1.6 million project to purchase and install compact storage cabinetry and fixtures in the main museum building, under the umbrella of the larger $16 million Valentine Moment Campaign.

“The Valentine Moment Campaign will fortify our museum to serve Richmonders for generations to come. The NEH’s generous grant is a crucial part of our efforts,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “This infrastructure upgrade allows us to safely store important historical objects, and our goal is to use these objects to engage, challenge and inspire our community.”

The Valentine was awarded the largest grant of any other humanities project in Virginia and is in the top 8% of the 245 grant recipients across the country.

More information about the NEH grants is available here: https://www.neh.gov/news/neh-announces-3317-million-245-humanities-projects-nationwide

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ABOUT THE VALENTINE

The Valentine has been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond’s 400-year history for over a century. Located in the heart of historic downtown, the Valentine is a place for residents and tourists to discover the diverse stories that tell the broader history of this important region.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

The Valentine Launches Walking Tours Throughout Richmond

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2022

Contact:
Meredith Mason, APR
Director of Public Relations & Marketing
mmason@thevalentine.org

The Valentine Launches Walking Tours Throughout Richmond

RICHMOND – This weekend, The Valentine will begin its 2022 walking tour season, which explores neighborhoods and historic sites across Richmond. Each tour reveals little-known stories throughout history that shaped Richmond today. In addition to offering popular traditional tours and the groundbreaking augmented reality tour of Monument Avenue which first launched last summer, The Valentine will debut several new experiences.

The inaugural tour will begin at The Valentine on Saturday, April 16 at 10:00 a.m., with a complimentary breakfast served at 9:00 a.m. The tour will explore the museum’s own historic Court End neighborhood. One of the oldest Richmond neighborhoods, Court End is full of diverse stories of early Richmonders and surviving architectural gems nestled among the ever-evolving city center.

Tours are scheduled for Saturdays, Sundays and Thursdays between April 16 and October 29. The walking tours offered this year include:

  • Origin Stories: Court End
  • Murals of Jackson Ward
  • Highlights of Hollywood Cemetery
  • History of Church Hill
  • Figures of Freedom (Shockoe Bottom & Downtown)
  • Monument Avenue: Origins and Reverberations Augmented Reality
  • Ballot Battle: Richmond Suffrage (Downtown)
  • Barton Heights: Northside
  • Shockoe Hill Cemetery

Valentine Members also receive access to Director’s Tours of Church Hill, Shockoe Hill Cemetery and Northside led by Director Bill Martin.

“We’re telling some fascinating and meaningful stories that most Richmonders haven’t heard before,” said Martin. “It’s important to us to tell these stories in the places they happened. This year, we expanded our tours to include Barton Heights and Shockoe Hill Cemetery – two historically significant sites that have not seen the love and recognition they deserve.”

The full tour schedule can be found at https://thevalentine.org/events/. Tours are $20 for adults, $10 for Valentine Members and free for children under 18. Private groups and self-guided tours are also available through The Valentine’s website.

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The Valentine has been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond’s 400-year history for over a century. Located in the heart of historic downtown, the Valentine is a place for residents and tourists to discover the diverse stories that tell the broader history of this important region.

2022 Richmond History Makers Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 9, 2022

Contact:
Meredith Mason, APR
Director of Public Relations & Marketing
mmason@thevalentine.org

2022 Richmond History Makers Announced

Today, The Valentine and the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond announced the 2022 Richmond History Makers honorees. This year marks the 17th annual Richmond History Makers & Community Update, where trailblazers from the Richmond community are recognized in six different categories.

The public is invited to watch the livestream of the Richmond History Makers celebration, sponsored by Dominion Energy, on Tuesday, March 8 from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.  Registration is required.

“Each year, we’re proud to celebrate Richmonders who give so much to our community, but this year is exceptional, as all our honorees made significant contributions during a difficult time,” said Bill Martin, director of The Valentine. “The pandemic and the ongoing movement for racial justice have exposed critical issues in the Richmond area, and this resolute group of people decided to help their neighbors rather than be crushed by the challenges facing our society. They are worth celebrating for improving people’s lives and creating a stronger Richmond for generations to come.”

The 2022 honorees are:

Advancing Our Quality of Life (two honorees):
JXN Project
Francis Thompson – Art Program Manager, JLL and Community Volunteer

Championing Social Justice:
Sheba Williams – Founder and Executive Director, Nolef Turns and Community Volunteer

Creating Quality Educational Opportunities:
Jocelyn Marencik – Founder and Project Manager, Got Tec Richmond

Demonstrating Innovative Economic Solutions:
Innovate Fulton, Inc.

Improving Regional Transportation:
Senior Connections

Promoting Community Health:
Rudene Haynes – Co-Founder, “Facts and Faith Fridays”

More information on Richmond History Makers is available here: RichmondHistoryMakers.com

Past Richmond History Makers honorees are available here: https://thevalentine.org/richmond-history-makers-2/richmond-history-makers-honorees/

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The Valentine has been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond’s 400-year history for over a century. Located in the heart of historic downtown, the Valentine is a place for residents and tourists to discover the diverse stories that tell the broader history of this important region. https://thevalentine.org

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The Valentine Begins Renovations, Will Remain Open

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 4, 2022

Contact:
Meredith Mason, APR
Director of Public Relations & Marketing
mmason@thevalentine.org

The Valentine Begins Renovations, Will Remain Open

RICHMOND – This month, the Valentine will begin to pack and move most of its archives and objects not on display to allow for construction to start later this year on new collection storage, staff workrooms and access spaces within the museum. Throughout the renovation process, the Valentine will remain open, including tours, exhibitions, gift shop, facility rentals and ongoing events and programs.

The move is part of the Valentine Moment Campaign, a multi-year effort to strengthen the museum’s understanding and presentation of Richmond’s significant history through renewed investment in the care of the museum’s significant assets. The project will impact researcher access to the Valentine’s collection.

The Valentine Moment Campaign is a strategic plan to review the more than one million objects acquired over the museum’s 123-year history and to remove those materials unrelated to the Valentine’s mission. The remaining objects will be housed in updated storage within the museum building, with improved staff work spaces and reading room for public research. The goal of this $16-million campaign is to ensure that every Richmonder can find themselves in the Valentine’s collection, exhibitions and programs. With dramatically refined holdings, the Valentine will be able to actively fill collecting gaps and tell a more inclusive narrative about our community.

“No other city is better equipped than Richmond to explore the complex stories of marginalized communities that are too often ignored or misrepresented,” said Bill Martin, director of the Valentine. “We hope this ambitious campaign will be a model for other institutions and better serve our beloved Richmond by being honest about our complicated racial history. Our team is committed to a bold, innovative approach to our work that reflects the diversity of the community.”

Collections access by museum staff on behalf of researchers will be significantly limited beginning February 28. Researchers should expect periods of time when only existing digital copies of materials or limited parts of the museum’s stored archival collection will be accessible. The museum’s stored objects will be completely inaccessible for the duration of the multi-year renovation. To ensure comprehensive access to the collection, research requests should be submitted before February 28 to archives@thevalentine.org. In-person, onsite research appointments will continue to be suspended until after the renovation is complete.

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The Valentine has been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond’s 400-year history for over a century. Located in the heart of historic downtown, the Valentine is a place for residents and tourists to discover the diverse stories that tell the broader history of this important region.

The Valentine Museum and Reclaiming the Monument Receive Historic Grant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 29, 2021

CONTACT:
Bill Martin
Director of the Valentine
bmartin@thevalentine.org

The Valentine Museum and Reclaiming the Monument Receive Historic Grant

RICHMOND – The Valentine Museum and Reclaiming the Monument are the recipients of a $670,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Monuments Project. The Monuments Project is an unprecedented $250 million commitment by the Mellon Foundation to transform the nation’s commemorative landscape by supporting public projects that more completely and accurately represent the multiplicity and complexity of American stories.

The Valentine has collaborated with Reclaiming the Monument founders and artists Dustin Klein (Technical Director) and Alex Criqui (Creative Director) to support the “Recontextualizing Richmond” public art project. This project, which will take place in 2022, will focus on the creation of a series of temporary light-based artworks addressing issues of historical, racial, and social justice in Richmond, Virginia and the surrounding capital region.

“The Richmond story is America’s story. This project will bring new stories to light and encourage us to take a fresh look at our City’s history,” said Bill Martin, Director of the Valentine Museum. “We are excited to support the work of Reclaiming the Monument over the coming year. Richmond’s history has national significance and this grant from the Mellon Foundation recognizes the important opportunity we have to elevate it.”

Both organizations look forward to bringing visuals, conversations, and dialogue to the Richmond community, using primary source materials from the Valentine’s collection and other historical resources. For the Valentine, this is a unique opportunity to gather community feedback and support future projects at the museum.

The light installations, are intended to raise awareness about the neglected histories in our community as it continues to grapple with the complicated legacies of our past and how its telling has been used to shape and influence our present and future.

The collaborative nature of the project will create greater dialogue between grassroots organizations, artists, historical institutions, and the general public that will lay a foundation for how public art involving historical memory can be created in a way which is inclusive and community driven.

“It is our hope that by providing an opportunity for our community to engage with a more complete telling of our history through the power of public art that we will be able to help our city heal and move towards a future rooted in peace, justice, and equality,” said Alex Criqui, Creative Director for Reclaiming the Monument.

Recontextualizing Richmond will also produce educational resources that will be accessible to educators and students.

Additional information and details related to Reclaiming the Monument installations will be made available in early 2022. The Valentine and Reclaiming the Monument are committed to ensuring a safe and engaging event series for the Richmond community.

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The Valentine has been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond’s 400-year history for over a century. Located in the heart of historic downtown, the Valentine is a place for residents and tourists to discover the diverse stories that tell the broader history of this important region. https://thevalentine.org

Reclaiming the Monument is a Richmond, Virginia based grassroots public art project founded by artists Dustin Klein and Alex Criqui. Their work arose out of the city of Richmond’s racial justice movement in the summer of 2020 by taking a key role in community efforts to recontextualize and address the city’s long standing Confederate monuments through works of light based collaborative protest art. Reclaiming the Monument’s work has been widely featured in media and publications around the globe, notably appearing on the cover of National Geographic’s first ever “Year in Pictures” issue, and being called one of the “Most Influential Works of American Protest Art Since World War II” by the New York Times. https://www.reclaimingthemonument.com

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. https://mellon.org

Richmond Story: Bingo!

Patients at the Virginia Home Play Bingo, July 9, 1968, FIC.033234, Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection, The Valentine. Photo: H. Lee Gupton.

With the defeat of a new Richmond casino at the ballot box, a look at gambling’s recent history here seems pertinent. For much of the 20th century, Virginia has had some of the strictest anti-gambling laws in the country. A long tradition of horse racing and dice and card-playing among the state’s illustrious white citizens had destroyed the wealth of a number of colonial families, including that of William Byrd III, son of our city’s founder. A notorious gambler, Byrd sold off his vast estate in 1767 and still could not cover his gambling debts, which he had racked up by the age of 30.

By the 1890s, gambling was deemed so detrimental to all classes of society that the General Assembly could no longer countenance it, no matter how traditional. They banned race track betting in 1894, then tightened the law just a year later. Over the next several decades, with support from Protestant churches, our state government essentially banned all forms of gambling. It was not until 1973 that our legislators decided to loosen restrictions. They did so narrowly, allowing only certified non-profits to host Bingo games. The logic behind the new law was that if Virginians were going to gamble, the profits could at least go to good causes.

Bingo was hugely popular in the United States in the 1930’s, during the Great Depression. Movie houses and fairs held jackpot games, while families began to play non-gambling versions of the game at home. The basic premise gave each player a large card, gridded with numbers. A non-player then drew numbers randomly from a hat, or even a fancy lotto ball machine. If that number appeared on a player’s card, they covered that number with a chip. A player won—calling Bingo!—when they achieved a row of five straight chips. Other versions of the game also rewarded other configurations, like chipping all four corners. The appeal of the game was its simplicity. It could be played by all ages, in very large crowds. The crowd-friendly game also created big jackpots for little pay-in.

According to the 1973 law, only federally recognized non-profits could run a game, with volunteers who were members of the non-profit. The price of cards and jackpot amounts were capped, as well as player age and profit percentages. Soon, churches, synagogues, civic organizations, and athletic clubs had set up tables in their basements and multi-purpose rooms to host Bingo. The public came in droves. The average Bingo player in 1975 lost $10 per night. Smaller games presented a larger chance of winning smaller jackpots, but a large game could pay out as much as $1500.

By 1977, Richmonders were spending over $1 million a year on Bingo. The game had grown so huge that the original law, which charged local governments with enforcement, failed to address a large number of problems. City and county governments scrambled to regulate Bingo. Richmond City Council unanimously passed a 6% admission tax—the same charged at movie theaters—in order to fund regulation in the city. Charities were required to file annual reports of their profits and payouts with auditors. Then a special commission was appointed to investigate complaints and enforce building, fire, and safety codes at the packed Bingo halls.

The metro Richmond area saw 150 organized Bingo games every week in 1978. That year, non-profits raised around $6 million with Bingo proceeds alone. The largest Bingo game in town was the annual Cystic Fibrosis fundraiser, which filled the Richmond Arena with 1700 players, who raised $32,000 for the cause. In fact, Bingo had grown so huge in the Richmond area in just five years that these non-profits did not have space for the growing crowds of players. The groups tried to buy new buildings or build larger annexes. But the law stipulated that Bingo proceeds could only be used for charitable expenses. Virginia’s attorney general was forced to clarify that non-profits could not buy real estate with their Bingo profits. So, the groups began to rent space for their Bingo games.

For-rent Bingo halls began to pop up all over Richmond. Places like “Crazy Jack’s” on Parham Road provided space and all the (sometimes expensive) equipment for a large Bingo game. But with expansion into the rental market came abuses. Some groups paid more in rent than in charitable activities. In 1979, the General Assembly passed more laws regulating Bingo, requiring fair-market rents and limiting buildings to 2 games a week. The rental halls were prohibited from keeping a percentage of Bingo profits.

By the early 1980s, Temple Beth-El, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge, the Civitan Club, St. Paul’s School, the Christian Workers Council, the Tuckahoe Moose, the Ginter Park Junior Women’s Club, the Metropolitan Junior Baseball League, the Richmond Speleological Society, the Jewish Community Center, and St. Mary’s Catholic Church all hosted Bingo games. Across the state, civic clubs, animal shelters, fire department, little leagues, and school districts all used on Bingo profits to keep their organizations running. Generally, for $2 a player received three cards at a Bingo game. They could also buy Instant Bingo cards, much like scratch tickets, for 25 cents each. The low stakes made the game seem less like gambling and more like fundraising—until players began to buy and play 30 cards at once!

Proponents of non-profit gaming argued that it was much more lucrative than selling candy and magazines door to door, or outright begging for funds. Fire stations and schools could raise money for new equipment without draining tax coffers. And, unlike casino gambling, someone in the crowd always wins at Bingo. Despite the long odds of winning, this is true. Richmond non-profits only profited 25-40% in any given game, with the majority of cash going to the jackpot, and the winner. Also, unlike casino gambling, there’s no way for the house to cheat. Everyone watches the caller pull the numbers. Of course, that does not mean that the players did not cheat. They certainly did, by removing numbers from their cards or stamping them over with new numbers.

Like more traditional gambling, Richmonders played Bingo for many reasons. Some treated it like simple entertainment or charitable giving, while others played for income. Elderly people played to get out of the house and socialize. Others, inevitably, played because they’d become addicted. The slightest hiccup in a game could bring out the worst in a Bingo crowd. A snowstorm cancellation or a botched call often led to unruly confrontations. Security guards patrolled many Bingo halls to keep the peace. In 1976, three years after non-profit Bingo became the first legal form of gambling in the state, Gamblers Anonymous sought to open a chapter in Richmond—the first in the state.

Non-profit Bingo is still big in Richmond, though it is waning now that Virginia allows two other forms of gambling. The Virginia State Lottery was sanctioned in 1988. Horse track betting became legal in 1989. For some, charitable Bingo has seemed like a near-perfect solution to fundraising. But as profits exploded, charities spent a lot of those profits on expanding their Bingo operations. Local and state lawmakers tried to find a balance. In 1994, Henrico County banned Instant Bingo cards. But state caps on winnings were eventually raised, as well as the cap on the number of games allowed per week. The flow of more money inevitably attracted criminal activity. In Henrico County, a man nicknamed “The Bingo King” skimmed $700,000 from local charities in the 1990s. In 1996, due to rampant abuse like this, the state appointed a commission to regulate Bingo.

The percentage of profits required to be spent on charitable activities was also lowered to just 10%. But into the 21st century, many charities struggled still to meet those requirements. Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent local “softball mom” was corrupted by Bingo games meant to raise money for her child’s team. Critics of Bingo also pointed out the irony of charities helping poor residents with 10% of the profits gleaned from the poor Bingo players in their basements.

Anti-gambling arguments carry paternalistic overtones, especially when the majority of gamblers are from low-income homes. As a Times-Dispatch reporter noted while covering Bingo games in 1975, the majority of the players were Black women of little economic means. But, if we look at what was happening in the Black community at the time, the “personal choice” angle gets complicated. In 1973, when Bingo was legalized, the destruction of the Fulton neighborhood was well underway. There, 850 homes, churches, and businesses were razed in the name of “urban renewal.” The overwhelming majority of those properties were Black-owned. The same is true of the several square blocks downtown that were cleared to make way for the Coliseum in 1971. In 1975, 700 houses in Randolph, Sydney, and Oregon Hill were being razed as well to make way for the Downtown Expressway. Again, the destruction disproportionately targeted Black homes and businesses. It is hard to imagine that while this willful destruction of Black wealth and opportunity perfectly coincided with the rise of Bingo, not a few players were simply desperate and trapped in an impossible situation. It’s not hard to imagine that the thousands of displaced Black residents found that personal choice had little to do with their circumstances, or felt better that the money they lost was going to a “good cause.” With both the law and public opinion intent on the destruction of these Black communities, many Bingo players no doubt felt that the only resource still available to them was a bit of luck.

Valentine Museum Hosts Events Exploring Richmond’s Voices and Values

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

November 1, 2021 

CONTACT: 

Cory Schutter 

Public Relations & Marketing Assistant 

cschutter@thevalentine.org 

Valentine Museum Hosts Events Exploring Richmond’s Voices and Values

RICHMOND, VA — Join the Valentine Museum for two free events that delve into the voices and values represented in Richmond’s public artworks. On Thursday, November 11, from 6–8 p.m., the Valentine will host a virtual panel discussion highlighting the community’s artistic responses to the social justice protests and monument removals of 2020. On Saturday, November 13, from 1–3 p.m., the Valentine will open the Edward Valentine Sculpture Studio for the first time since March 2020 and ask for feedback on the museum’s process to reinterpret the Studio of Richmond’s Lost Cause artist Edward Valentine.  

“Insights from the public are critical to ensuring that the future exhibit and programming represents the voices and values of the Richmond community,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. 

The virtual panel on Thursday, November 11 is free and open to the public; however, registration is required. Attendees are encouraged to share their perspectives about how Richmond’s public art and monuments represent our community values. Panelists include: 

  • Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren, producers of “How The Monuments Came Down”  
  • Free Egunfemi Bangura, founder of Untold RVA and co-organizer of the George Floyd Memorial Hologram Project 
  • Alex Criqui and Dustin Klein, light-based installation artists of Reclaiming the Monument 
  • Sesha Moon of the JXN Project and coordinator of Illuminating Legacies 
  • Nigel Richardson with the Afrikana Independent Film Festival and coordinator for Her Flowers 
  • Sam Schwartzkopf with the City of Richmond and coordinator of the Freedom Constellation banners now mounted on City Hall.  

On Saturday, November 13, the Valentine will open the studio of Edward Valentine, creator of the Jefferson Davis statue that was pulled down from Monument Avenue last year. The Studio has been closed to the public since March 2020 and is being opened to the public for this event only. Guests may drop in during the event and provide feedback on the themes and ideas that are being considered for inclusion in the final redesign of the space. Responses will inform the initial concept designs for the new exhibition, which is slated to open in 2023. Light refreshments will be provided.  Parking is available at the Valentine and nearby. 

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The Valentine has been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond’s 400-year history for over a century. Located in the heart of historic downtown, the Valentine is a place for residents and tourists to discover the diverse stories that tell the broader history of this important region.  

Richmond History Makers & Community Update Opens Nominations for the 17th Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

October 12, 2021 

CONTACT: 

Cory Schutter 

Public Relations & Marketing Assistant 

cschutter@thevalentine.org 

Richmond History Makers & Community Update Opens Nominations for the 17th Year 

RICHMOND — Nominations are now open for the 2022 Richmond History Makers & Community Update. The program honors individuals and organizations making substantive and lasting contributions to the Greater Richmond region. 

This year, The Valentine will partner with the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond to highlight the work of six honorees and provide an update on the projects and programs making a difference across the region. The six honorees will be recognized at community celebrations on March 8, 2022. 

“The Community Foundation is grateful to have this opportunity to recognize the changemakers in our region,” said Scott Blackwell, Chief Community Engagement Officer with the Community Foundation. “This program shines a light on the best of the best – leaders who collaborate, who consider the needs of our neighborhoods and who place social and economic equity at the forefront of what they do.” 

Richmond History Makers is in its 17th year of recognizing local trailblazers. Long-time supporters Dominion Energy and Leadership Metro Richmond are returning as the title sponsor and collaborating partner, respectively. 

Nominations for the 2022 Richmond History Makers & Community Update will be accepted through October 29, 2021. To learn more about the program, view past honorees and to nominate a Richmond history maker in your community, visit RichmondHistoryMakers.com.  

Additional information and details of the celebration on March 8 will be available in early 2022. The Valentine is committed to ensuring a safe and engaging event for our honorees, guests and the public. 

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About the Valentine 

The Valentine has been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond’s 400-year history for over a century. Located in the heart of historic downtown, the Valentine is a place for residents and tourists to discover the diverse stories that tell the broader history of this important region. https://thevalentine.org/ 

About the Community Foundation 

The Community Foundation is a leading partner and advocate for philanthropy and service in the Richmond region. Founded in 1968, the Community Foundation has built a strong legacy of helping people and institutions give back with passion and purpose. https://www.cfrichmond.org/ 

About Leadership Metro Richmond 

Leadership Metro Richmond (LMR) is the region’s community leadership development and engagement organization. Over 2,000 diverse leaders have participated in LMR’s 10-month leadership development program, Leadership Quest. LMR provides leaders with an environment for high-performing conversations, broadens their knowledge and perspectives about the region, and inspires them to serve first then lead. http://www.lmronline.org/