Race, memory, and communal belonging in narrative and art Richmond, Virginia's Monument Avenue, 1948-1996 /
Philip Terrie, Advisor
Locating public memory as a central site in the contested imagination of
communal belonging, this study examines the post-World War II history of Richmond,
Virginia’s Monument Avenue as a key symbolic location in the cultural politics and
political culture of the Civil Rights and post-Civil Rights eras. A New South-era network
of memorials to leaders of the Confederacy, Monument Avenue has long stood as the
spatial and artistic manifestation of the cultural values espoused through the ideology of
the Lost Cause. This ideology enabled the continued cultural and political dominance of
a patrician, white elite who ruled Virginia through a politics of paternalism. This
paternalism assured white rule and rigid racial segregation but was effected without the
overt violence and abuses commonly associated with the post-Reconstruction South.
After tracing the history of Monument Avenue from 1890 through 1948—
especially in relation to racial segregation and public memory in Virginia—this study
provides a detailed analysis of the ways the Civil Rights Movement and anti-integration
movements in Richmond used Monument Avenue as a symbol of the larger struggle in
which they were engaged. In the post-Civil Rights era, under ideologies of neoliberalism
and multiculturalism, the existing Confederate memorials were joined, in 1996, by a new
statue of African American tennis champion, writer, and activist Arthur Ashe. This
memorial was unveiled only after two years of intense public debate.
The second half of this study examines the transformation of Richmond and
Virginia’s cultural politics and political culture under neoliberalism and multiculturalism,
especially the political career of the conservative Democrat, L. Douglas Wilder who, in
1989, was the first African American to be elected governor of Virginia or any other U.S.
State. This history is presented alongside a study of Arthur Ashe’s life as described in
his four memoirs, his newspaper columns, and his public appearances. Using the central
texts, I foreground the Ashe memorial and its debates by demonstrating that as barriers to
racial inclusion were lowered, neoliberalism enabled the reentrenchment of the values
associated with white paternalism and the reaffirmation of class hierarchies.
For Karin and Pearl;
and in memory of Peggy Brew.
School:Bowling Green State University
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:civil rights movements communities monuments ashe memorial richmond va monument avenue virginia
Date of Publication: