Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Maggie L. Walker Monument to Adorn Broad Street



Mayor Dwight C. Jones and the City’s Public Art Commission (PAC) announced today a new monument commemorating Maggie L. Walker that will be created by artist Antonio Tobias “Toby” Mendez. The Public Art Commission worked with a Site Selection team of neighborhood leaders and stakeholders to choose the artist and the location that would best reflect the important legacy of Maggie L. Walker and her contributions to the City of Richmond. The monument will be integrated into a new plaza and gathering space on Broad Street at North Adams Street.

The Maggie L. Walker monument will become embedded as a landmark in the City’s Downtown Arts District. “Not only will Richmond gain an important new monument that can reflect the diverse heritage and history of a significant local hero, but this effort will also underscore her role as a champion for civil rights on the national landscape,” said Mayor Jones. “Maggie Walker was a revolutionary leader in business, a champion for breaking down barriers between communities and showed incredible strength as a person that came out of extraordinarily challenging circumstances to create great things.”

Maggie L. Walker devoted her life to civil rights advancement during the Jim Crow-era. Maggie Walker’s home and business -- where she broke ground as the first woman of any race to found a bank -- are located within walking distance of the planned monument site. The downtown Broad Street location is also symbolic as that corridor once served as a divider between historically racially segregated neighborhoods. The new monument, targeted for completion in the fall of 2016, will serve as a gateway to the historic Jackson Ward community and the new home of the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia at the historic Leigh Street Armory.

The Public Art Commission led an extensive community process that asked the public what elements of Maggie Walker’s life should be reflected in the art work. The images of her strength, perseverance and dedication to empower and educate were all consistent themes that will be reflected in the new monument.

Artist Toby Mendez said, “I see my role as a story teller or a director in search of a good story. I have had the luck to create monuments to Thurgood Marshall and Gandhi.  Maggie Walker is in that realm, a person who did so many great things. Her story is not just one story as she was a pioneer on several levels; a business person, a banker, a teacher and an innovator when it came to creating significant jobs for women in the community. She did this with every stumbling block placed in her path. As an artist, this is the story you want to tell."

Sarah Driggs, chair of the Maggie Walker Memorial team of the Public Art Commission shared that, “Richmond has been proud of Maggie Walker for generations. It is about time that we raised a monument to honor and share this strong woman's messages of economic literacy and the power of community.”