Who We Are
Virginians for Reconciliation is a volunteer citizen group formed in 2018 to begin to confront issues of racism and a lack of civility through building and strengthening bridges of trust and understanding followed by coordination of concrete action. The founders sought out individuals from diverse backgrounds and experience who were prepared to move beyond “business as usual” and to harness growing discontent that was compelling many to take responsibility and action. Despite meaningful progress in quality of life and relationships for some peoples, lingering inequities and continuing division moved a core group of VFR Members to unite. They met regularly and began to develop policies and programs for a new day in Virginia. The coalition considered the year 2019 and the significance of the 400 year anniversary of the arrival of the country’s first enslaved African people, who arrived in Virginia in 1619. Reflecting on Virginia’s key role in the enslavement of African-Americans, they determined the time had arrived for frank and candid conversations among all people of goodwill. Acknowledging the valuable work of others already working to heal wounds and reconcile divided neighbors, VFR Members joined in solemn commitment with one another to move Virginians into a new reality of repentance and reconciliation, starting today.
W H Y
The Declaration of Independence acknowledges that all people have inalienable rights endowed by our Creator, and that the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law. The Scriptures emphasize that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God as one, unique but united. Those spiritual truths are expressed in economic, political and societal realities, fundamental to historic American principles - yet too often they are not fully experienced by all our citizens. The Constitution requires us to work continually to form a “more perfect union.” Today - in 2019 -Virginians have a unique opportunity to initiate and promote honest dialogue and to accelerate healing racial wounds without delay. We believe we must motivate all citizens toward unity and reconciliation in every sense: in daily economic, legal, and relational life.
W H Y V I R G I N I A
Virginia was the arrival point for the first enslaved Africans in 1619, the epicenter of the American slave trade, and the capitol of the Confederacy. For decades, those forced into a life and future they did not choose, suffered innumerable indignities and deprivations, and by 1857 one of Virginia’s sons - Dred Scott - was declared by the US Supreme Court to be a non-citizen. Still, the struggle for freedom and equality pressed on in the hearts and minds of those with unusual courage and dedication. In 2017, white supremacists held a violent, deadly protest in Charlottesville, reminding many that the struggle was not over. Virginia is also the home of trail-blazing leaders like Barbara Johns, Oliver Hill, Maggie Walker and the nation’s first black Governor, Doug Wilder. Others have gained some civil rights victories in Virginia, confronting imposition of black codes, Jim Crow legislation, school segregation, restrictive covenants and laws prohibiting “mixed race” unions. There is more that needs to be done. Today, Virginia can and must lead the nation on the path of healing and reconciliation - in 2019 and beyond.
H O W
Virginians for Reconciliation has developed extensive plans and programs that it recommends to all citizens. We are promoting a series of events designed to engage Virginians around the state to begin to confront essential truths about race that persist in America, with the goal of establishing a new conversation and framework where people of different races, backgrounds, heritages and experiences begin an honest and healthy dialogue to break down stereotypes and barriers and work closer together for the common good. As strong bridges of trust and understanding are built, a people united will be empowered to undertake strategic overhaul of systems and practices that have restrained true freedom and liberty for far too long.
W H O
Virginians for Reconciliation is an assembly of a growing number of leaders in realms of education, finance, business, churches, the arts and more. We welcome all who are eager and willing to work together - in their area of expertise or passion - making whatever contribution makes sense for them. Stubborn, entrenched habits and mindsets bow to the force of stubborn, determined commitments and then power of love and unity. V.F.R. asks Virginians from all walks of life and backgrounds to participate in making 2019 a year of earnest racial reconciliation and healing, with the shared goal of creating a more just, civil and respectful society in America - for today, tomorrow and all future generations.