Reconciliation Triangle Takes Giant Step
15 March 2007

Representatives from Liverpool, UK, and West Africa will gather in Richmond, Virginia, on 30 March, for the unveiling of a reconciliation statue at the city’s former slave market.

Governor Tim Kaine and Mayor L Douglas Wilder will be among the speakers at the 4pm ceremony. The 14-member Liverpool delegation includes the Lord Mayor’s official representative. The ambassadors of Benin and other West African countries are expected at the event which is sponsored by Richmond’s Slave Trail Commission.

The unveiling is the result of nearly 10 years of work to create a Reconciliation Triangle between Richmond, Liverpool and the republic of Benin. Identical statues by Liverpool artist Stephen Broadbent are now in place in each country, symbolizing a commitment to new relationships based on honesty and forgiveness.

Richmond’s journey towards racial healing began with its first 'walk through history' organized by Hope in the Cities in 1993, and the marking of the historic Slave Trail. Richmond City Council established the Slave Trail Commission to develop the trail as an educational resource. In 1999, President Mathieu Kerekou of the Republic of Benin convened an international gathering at which he apologized for Benin’s part in selling fellow Africans to slave traders. Also in 1999, Liverpool City Council apologized for that city’s prominent role in the trade. Last month, Virginia’s General Assembly voted unanimously to express profound regret for the involuntary servitude of Africans, and called for reconciliation among all Virginians.

Official groups from Richmond, Liverpool and Benin have taken part in ceremonies at each corner of the Triangle. Liverpool students helped design panels for the base of the sculpture and traveled to Benin. A city-wide contest engaged Richmond students in writing on the theme of reconciliation.

Groups working to establish the Reconciliation Triangle include Hope in the Cities/Initiatives of Change and the Richmond Hill retreat center. They hope to develop links between schools and faith communities, as well as promote cultural heritage and economic development.

See story on surprise apology at Richmond City Council

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