When there is chaos and grief, it tends to bring the worst out of people and sometimes the best out of people. Some people are mentally able to understand while others are distracted by the easiest thing to do which is lash out with behavior. The purpose of this article is to educate how my family was involved with Monument Ave in Richmond, Va.
My great-grandfather Petronius S Jones and great-grandmother Evelyn C Jones moved to Richmond, Virginia in the 1940s. My great-grandparents owned a cleaners in the area. I remember her telling me the story like it was yesterday. Unfortunately, my great-grandfather passed away when I was a young child. By this point, my great-grandfather was recognized by the city of Richmond as they named a park after him called the Petronius S Jones Park in Richmond, Va. There is a mural inside the Recreation Center. I remember going over there as a child and establishing relationships with the community leader based on the good rapport my great-grandfather made.
I was very fortunate to spend the majority of my life with them as both my mother and father worked hard in their careers. I attended a local Catholic School in the area. In the afternoons, when arriving at their house my great grandmother would teach me everything important. She would educate me on what my great-grandfather did in the local communities, our family history as well as helped me with my homework. Our Sundays consisted of church services at St. Pauls Episcopal Church in Richmond Va, cleaning silver, cleaning table linens, and learning more about the family history. This was very important to them.
This week hearing the news about the Robert E Lee Monument was heartbreaking. While I am opposed to his belief, my great-grandfather worked hard serving with the Virginia Commonwealth Committee to assist with raising funds to maintain and improve the communities. One of the accomplishments he executed was to create the bunkers around the monuments. The monuments needed more space around them and bunkers. People kept running into the monuments. I remember as a child when the city installed the Arthur Ashe monument. My great-grandmother was so proud as this far past the time of my great grandfathers passing. We attended the parade recognizing the monument.
I believe the goal for monument avenue was to educate individuals on the history of Richmond, Va. Virginia was a place where African Americans (slaves) and Native Americans were taken advantage of. While things were taken from African Americans and Native Americans, information was something that was and could not be taken. My great-grandmother asked me every day, “Where did you come from?” I knew my response, “I am the daughter of William H. Orr Jr., the granddaughter of Doris Orr, the great-granddaughter of Evelyn C. Jones and the great great-granddaughter of Earl and Gazetta Charity.” I am sure my great-grandfather knew the representation of the monuments such as Stonewall Jackson and Robert E Lee. However, the most important thing was educating individuals about the history of Richmond, Va. He successfully maintained the communities by keeping everything nice for individuals to read and learn about history. It was to never support the idea of confederacy. Knowledge was his way of influencing and being awarded the opportunity to change the community for a greater cause.