Acts of acknowledgement

A walk through history is a model for an accurate, respectful, inclusive public telling of the story. It establishes an agenda for healing by:

  • Allowing the conscience of large numbers of people to be mobilized
  • Liberating all parties by breaking the cycle of guilt, avoidance and resentment
  • Enabling people of different backgrounds to take ownership of shared history

Unhealed history and memory can be “containers for grievances.” The right kind of remembering can build a common narrative for a local or national community and can act as a corrective and a guide for the future.

Hope in the Cities calls its history concept, Sacred Stories. This recognizes that each individual and group has memories that are important, often specific to them and which shape their identity. The walk through history enables different groups to share their Sacred Stories and to learn to hear history from the perspective of “the other.”

Hope in the Cities offers two models of “walking through history” as experiential learning to begin creating healed and honest relationships based on trust:

  1. The Richmond Slave Trail - pioneered in Richmond in 1993 this walk has become a model for communities everywhere seeking to heal from a painful past. The Slave Trail forms the heart of experiential walks held on request throughout the year.
  2. The Historical Timeline - an exercise to enable a diverse group of people to begin to hear, understand and appreciate different events and experiences, and ultimately embrace a shared narrative.
Reconciliation Triangle

Representatives from Liverpool, UK, and West Africa gathered in Richmond, VA, in 2007, for the unveiling of a Reconciliation Statue at the city’s former slave market.

The unveiling was the result of nearly 10 years of work to create a Reconciliation Triangle between Richmond, VA, Liverpool, UK, and the republic of Benin, West Africa. Identical statues by Liverpool artist Stephen Broadbent are now in place in each country marking the three points of the infamous slave trade triangle. The statues symbolize a commitment to new relationships based on honesty, forgiveness and reconciliation.