Published August 14, 2017

Friends of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities,

Matthew Gibson

The events in Charlottesville on the weekend of August 12th are a tragic reminder of what bigotry and intolerance can do to a community. The loss of life and the emotional and physical violence our nation witnessed Friday night and Saturday challenge our assumptions about the world in which we live and make us question the progress we have made as a civil society. White supremacy and racism are enemies of the world that VFH imagines for the Commonwealth.

We condemn the acts of the white nationalist terrorists that were intended to intimidate our community. Instead of being intimidated, we are more committed than ever to our mission. VFH’s work to share the diverse narratives of our state, create a culture of listening, and illuminate our shared humanity has never been more important than it is now.

A piece in yesterday’s New York Times provides a brief history of the debate about the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville. It references a program during VFH’s 2012 Virginia Festival of the Book that initiated some of the early dialogue about the city’s Confederate monuments. VFH remains committed to being a convener of civil discourse on the topics that are critical to our understanding of the human experience. While our views may remain as diverse as we are as individuals, as a society we must work to understand each other while upholding our commitment to equality and justice for all.

As part of our commitment to inclusion, we’ve collected some VFH program resources that explore issues of race, immigration, and how we memorialize history. But there is much more work to do.

We confront with honesty the critical need for racial reconciliation and healing in Virginia. These will not be achieved easily or quickly, and they will require resilience, hope, and many committed partners and participants. In response to the weekend’s events, VFH will provide forums for respectful dialogue. We will engage diverse communities in discussion and reflection about questions that challenge our society’s sense of well-being and safety.

Our thoughts and sympathies go to the families of those who were injured or lost their lives this weekend. With them and their loved ones in our hearts and minds, we commit to shaping a future for Virginia that honors our differences and celebrates our shared humanity.

– Matthew Gibson

Vanessa Adkins, right, is apprenticing under her cousin Jessica Canaday Stewart learning the finer points of traditional Chickahominy dancing. Photos taken at the Fall Festival and Pow Wow in Charles City on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.

Our work brings people together and honors our shared humanity.