September 14, 2020: Confederate statue down, George Rogers Clark statue approved to go

  
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Today’s Patreon-fueled nonprofit mention is for Abundant Life Ministries, “working hard to create a better future for the Charlottesville community.”

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Over the weekend, the Virginia Department of Health reported another 2,931 cases of COVID-19, with 1,300 on Saturday, 874 on Sunday and 757 this morning. There have been another 32 deaths for a cumulative total of 2,743 since the first fatality was recorded on March 16. The seven-day average for positive tests dropped to 7.2 percent this morning from 7.5 percent on Sunday. 

In the Thomas Jefferson Health District there have been another 84 cases reported over the weekend, with 46 reported Saturday, 17 on Sunday, and 21 today. Over the weekend, the VDH launched a new tool on their COVID-19 tracker which provides more detail. For instance, Albemarle has a seven-day average of seven new cases a day, and 2.8 new cases per 100,000 residents. In Charlottesville, the seven-day average is 19 new cases a day and 29.1 new cases per 100,000 people. 

The UVA COVID-Tracker has not been updated since Friday afternoon, with data reflecting through September 10. As of last Wednesday, there have been 321 positive cases since August 17 with 276 of those as students. As of last Wednesday, eight percent of quarantine beds were in use, and one percent of isolation beds. 

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On Saturday, a small crowd watched in Court Square as the At Ready statue was removed from its place atop 5th Street outside the Albemarle County Courthouse.  The now-removed statue was erected in 1909 and was for many years a protected war memorial. The Albemarle Board of Supervisors voted to begin the process to remove it in early July, just days after a new law went into effect that removed that protection. Albemarle County live streamed the entire event and here is Siri Russell, the director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

“You may hear the sound of the crane backing up as the Johnny Reb statue starts its first movement off of the pedestal and away from Court Square,” Russell said. “This certainly is not the end of the day but it is a moment that many watching have been long awaiting.” 

On Sunday, community members gathered to celebrate the space as one of renewal. Read Katherine Knott’s coverage of that event in the Daily Progress

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Meanwhile, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors (BOV) met late last week and voted to support removal of the statue of George Rogers Clark on University Avenue on the Corner. The statue was a donation from Paul Goodloe McIntire in 1920.

“At the time the statue was erected, it was described by the Alumni News as Clark ‘explaining the futility of resistance,’ which supports a popular sentiment at the time of the natural superiority of white Americans over Native Americans and other nonwhites, which is not a view endorsed by members of the University community now,” reads the adopted resolution. 

The BOV also agreed to remove the name Curry from the School of Education and Human Development, and to re-contextualize the statue of Thomas Jefferson near the Rotunda. They also agreed to drop the name Withers from Withers-Brown Hall at the School of Law.  (full BOV meeting packet)

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The COVID-19 pandemic began six months ago, and since then many people's lives have been transformed due to the uncertainty, the economic slowdown or they have had to stay within lockdown to avoid getting the virus. The Center for Nonprofit Excellence has been recording a series of conversations with area leaders on Hope and Resilience. Ridge Schuyler is the Dean of Community Self-Sufficiency Programs at Piedmont Virginia Community College.

“You know, it has been quite the journey for all of us and a friend of mine, their analogy was that it was like we got hit in the head with a rock,” Schuyler said. “And now we’re standing up, we’re still dazed, they’re still blood coming into our eyes but we’re still standing.” 

Schuyler said the crisis will continue to unfold slowly as the search for a vaccine goes on, but the last six months have shined a light on inequities in our community. 

“I spend a lot of time my trying to figure out what can I do to help us address not just the crisis of the moment with the long-term impacts of the pandemic,” Schuyler said. 

You can hear the rest of that interview at this link on my SoundCloud page

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