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‘Remembered in a major way’: Members of Richmond 34 honored at Flying Squirrels games

Published: Jul. 17, 2021 at 6:31 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Richmond Flying Squirrels honored the Richmond 34 this weekend with a retired jersey, a pregame ceremony and a scholarship donation.

Sixty years ago, Elizabeth Johnson Rice was one of the 34 Black Virginia Union University students, known as the Richmond 34, who were arrested during the nonviolent sit-ins at the segregated lunch counter of Thalhimers department store.

“They were fighting for civil rights as we are still today,” Johnson Rice said.

For decades, Johnson Rice has been fighting to make sure that the legacy of the 34 students isn’t forgotten. But this weekend, their efforts are being immortalized in a way she could never have imagined, thanks to the Flying Squirrels.

The baseball team has tapped Johnson Rice to be an ambassador for the team, using America’s pastime as a vessel to help end racism today.

“It’s overwhelming to realize this thing can take legs and march on its own,” Johnson Rice said. “Who knows where this will go?”

The Flying Squirrels kicked off the weekend on Friday by honoring Johnson and the other members of the Richmond 34. The team announced it would officially retire the number 34 Jersey in honor of the Richmond 34′s sacrifice in the fight for civil rights.

Saturday, there was a pregame ceremony honoring members of the Richmond 34, followed by postgame fireworks.

“I just want to thank the Richmond Flying Squirrels for giving me the opportunity and giving the Richmond 34 the opportunity to be remembered in a major way,” Johnson Rice said.

Though the fight for civil rights is far from over, Johnson Rice says she wants to make sure the legacy of the Richmond 34 it’s only strengthened with all those in attendance after Saturday’s game.

“This is what I want them to know, that we were not just a group of students that made a statement and picketed a store and demonstrated. It’s beyond that,” Johnson Rice said.

The number 34 jersey worn by the Flying Squirrels team will be auctioned off with proceeds going towards the Richmond 34 Legacy Scholarship Fund.

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