Reconciliation Statue

Representatives from Liverpool, UK, and West Africa gathered in Richmond, VA, on March 30, 2007, for the unveiling of a reconciliation statue at the city’s former slave market.

Governor Tim Kaine and Mayor L Douglas Wilder were among the speakers. The 14-member Liverpool delegation included the Lord Mayor’s official representative. The ambassadors of Benin and other West African countries attended the event, sponsored by Richmond’s Slave Trail Commission.

(Photo: Karen Elliott Greisdorf)

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.

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.

In 2007 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. Work has continued to develop links between schools and faith communities, as well as promote cultural heritage and economic development.