Richmond native working to revitalize city’s southside in grandfather’s honor

Johnny Battle's Legacy

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It has been a year and a half since a Richmond man lost his life on the street he called home for decades.

Johnny Battle was a staple in his Southside neighborhood. In 2018, he was brutally attacked and died. His murderer is now serving a 28-year sentence.

“It’s hard to face the music that he is gone, and I remember - I said I wanted his legacy to live on, and the things I started doing in Chicago to revitalize that area, I want to do that same thing here because I feel like I owe it to the community - this community raised me," explained Battle’s grandson, Dwavon.

Dwavon is in the process of purchasing homes on Decatur Street where his grandfather lived, he wants to renovate them and make them affordable for first time home buyers. He started a company called ‘Battle the Odds Investment Group’ in his grandfather’s name.

“As I am behind the scenes planning, helping people become homeowners - if they own something I think they will take pride in it, and I feel like a neighborhood can be vibrant like it once was,” he said.

Dwavon says his grandfather always wanted to revitalize homes and make them affordable for families in the city, and now he is making sure the dream is realized.

“He battled so many odds, I feel like the torch has been passed to me to keep his legacy going like I said I would," said Dwavon.

He is also raising money to open a community center on the city’s southside. He hopes it can teach some of the skills his grandfather was able to offer to the community.

“He was a gardener, helping people grow things, he was a mechanic the garage back there, he used to work on cars - everybody’s cars in the community,” he explained.

Just months before his death, the family celebrated Johnny Battle’s 80th birthday, Dwavon says months before he reached that milestone, he made his grandfather a promise he intends to keep.

“I know he lives within me and I will continue to own his legacy like I said I would a year before he died," he said.

Dwavon is currently working with Councilwoman Reva Trammell to add a street sign bearing Johnny Battle’s name to the 3100 block of Decatur Street.

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