Swords into Plowshares makes first step towards reconfiguring statues

Jalene Schmidt in front of Swords of Plowshares presentation
Jalene Schmidt in front of Swords of Plowshares presentation(wvir)
Published: Mar. 5, 2022 at 10:24 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The first chapter of melting down Charlottesville’s Confederate statues is underway. It all started Saturday, March 5, inside the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center.

Speakers at the event say it’s just day one of a long process. Saturday, community members were given the chance to voice their own ideals for the future art and space made of the melted down statues.

“Our goal at the end of it is to create something so representative that when we offer it to Charlottesville, they’ll say, ‘yes,’” Andrea Douglas with the JSAAHC said.

More than 75 people were in the actual meeting room, and even more online. The end goal is to create something that makes everyone feel comfortable, contrasting what the statues used to resemble.

“The public art that we had for so many years in our in our parks did not embrace inclusive, democratic values,” Jalane Schmidt with the Memory Project at the University of Virginia said.

Schmidt says this is now a starting over process. Step one of that is hearing the values of the community.

One community member said it’s not about erasing history, but rather making sure the complete story is told. Others expressed their priorities for the future space involve safety, inclusiveness, engagement and much more.

These discussions stemmed from small group-talk.

“Conversation can flow a little bit better between several people rather than just in a huge group,” Schmidt said.

Shortly after, members lined up one by one to share with Swords into Plowshares what they gathered from listening, brainstorming, and collaborating with others.

Schmidt says their input will be compiled into a document later presented to City Council to show Charlottesville’s values.

“The team of community ambassadors with the Swords into Plowshares project is is writing this up is recording all of this and getting this information together and then also doing more outreach,” Schmidt said.

The next meeting will be in May, but you can also go to Swords Into Plowshares – Transforming Trauma Into Renewal Through Art (sipcville.com) to patriciate in the survey for your own ideals for this new art.

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