Hope in the Cities: Our story

Hope in the Cities (HIC) was launched as a program of Initiatives of Change in 1990 in response to the need for racial healing in Richmond, Virginia. Since its formal organization, HIC has established a local, national and international reputation as a major resource in the work of race relations.

(Photo: Karen Elliott Greisdorf)

Locally HIC enjoys the support of the region’s elected officials, leaders of all faith groups, educational, business and community leaders. Because of its unique position of trust, HIC is able to convene alienated and polarized groups and to find common ground. Its combination of fact-based and relationship-building dialogues has broken new ground and created intense interest among dialogue practitioners nationwide.

Hope in the Cities model for dialogues, healing history and building interracial partnerships has been replicated in cities across the nation, including Portland, OR, Selma, AL, Baltimore, MD, Hartford, CT, Natchez, MS, and Dayton, OH, as well communities in Europe, Australia, South Africa, Brazil and India.

Historic Milestones
  • 1993 HIC sponsored a national conference, “Healing the Heart of America,” which for the first time publicly acknowledged Richmond’s racial history in the original Unity Walk.
  • 1996 HIC facilitated the drafting of A Call to Community, which was presented at the National Press Club by a bi-partisan national leadership group and other partnering organizations. Based on this Call HIC initiated a series of small group dialogues on race, reconciliation and responsibility which over the intervening years have involved thousands.
  • 1996 HIC launched an annual Metropolitan Richmond Day at which individuals and organizations serving Metropolitan Richmond gather to acknowledge their work and to learn more about a significant opportunity or challenge. Up to 600 attendees wrestle with critical issues facing the Richmond region.
  • 1998 HIC assisted in the development of a public dialogue process for the President Clinton’s Initiative on Race.
  • 2001 HIC facilitated the creation of a partnership among Richmond, Liverpool and Benin in West Africa, each of which has apologized for its role in the slave trade and committed to build a “reconciliation triangle” beginning with the erection of common public statues and youth exchange visits.
  • 2001, June - HIC co-sponsored a national forum on reconciliation and justice at Howard University in collaboration with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the National League of Cities and other organizations. Participants came from South Africa, Australia, Mexico, UK, and/Russia.
  • 2004 HIC graduated the first class of the Connecting Communities Program. Community leaders from diverse backgrounds take part in intensive skills building training modules.
  • 2005 HIC launched a regional conversation on “healthy integrated public schools.” This conversation now includes teachers, administrators, students, parents and the business community.
  • 2007, March - The Slave Trail Commission in partnership with HIC, the Cities Richmond and HIC Liverpool unveiled the Reconciliation Statue in Richmond. Replicas of this statue are erected in Liverpool, England and The Republic of Benin (West Africa).
  • 2009, February - The Slave Trail Commission completed an archeological dig at the former site of Lumpkin's Jail, one of the historical sites identified by HIC at the 1993 first Unity Walk. The Smithsonian stated that this was the most significant dig to occur in the United States in the last fifty years.
  • 2009, June - HIC played a leading role in hosting The Trust Factor, a national forum at the University of Richmond.
  • 2011-12 - HIC, in partnership with the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, launched a project on Unpacking the 2010 Cenus: the new realities of race, class and jurisdiction. This involved transfering the data knowledge to DVD, training presenters and facilitators, and organizing presentations to all sectores of the metropolitan community.