Virginia is a state that has informed our nation’s history significantly since our founding.

This year, Virginians remember the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to their state.

The city of Richmond, as the State capital and the former capital of the Confederacy, has planned extensive discussions about how their history has informed the present.

As part of our team visit, we sought out to find out how local leaders are planning to help residents reckon with its past.

At the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, RichmondMayor Levar Stoney and EPU Founder Mitch Landrieu discussed how local leaders can tackle critical social issues including racism and racial disparities, the history and symbolism of monuments, how to chart a path toward dismantling inequities, and how our two cities can learn from each other as we seek to improve our communities.

It’s important we have the tough and truthful conversations about race and class that can help us move forward. Only when we are able to bring people together and have truthful conversations about our past can we really chart a better path forward.

While in Richmond, we visited Richmond Hill and discussed ongoing faith and community building work led by Initiatives of Change.  Both are committed to healing historical wounds and stitching together a more equitable community. There are dozens of organizations working at the intersection of racial reconciliation, faith, policy, community relations, and social justice.

Since September of 2018, we have had the privilege of meeting with elected officials, organizations, and community members who are actively working to bring about positive change and economic development from Texas to North Carolina and everywhere in between. As 2019 moves on, our final visits will ensure that our work reflects the diverse perspectives and insights of communities across our region.

Our final stop is Louisville, Kentucky next week. If you’re in the Louisville region and would like to get involved, please contact us at

If we are able to work through the discussions of race and class and bring diverse groups of people together around a common purpose, with shared responsibility and equal opportunity, we can then begin moving our communities forward together.