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Tuesday, June 02, 2020


by Nan Ottenritter

Detail of Kehinde Wiley's "Rumors of War"

Drive downtown, in the circles can be found
Stonewall Jackson, Arthur Ashe in Monument town.
Two hooves in the air mean the rider died in battle,
Others want their freedom, don’t make me no chattle.
The history society debunks the horse limbs lore
But slavery, Lost Causes leave generations sore
and hurting from a war and the endless chore
of teaching you, the victor, writing the stor-
ies, the history, the truth of our nation.

On the block in Shockoe Bottom, bound in chains
Or, cause cotton weren’t the only crop, sold down the James.
We scrawl on Jeff Davis Black Lives Matter.
At Robert E. Lee’s feet red paint is splattered.
Say his name. Lynch Trump. This is racist.
Your vote was a hate crime. The south ain’t no oasis.

Yet near Monument Avenue a black man rides,
Nike high tops astride a horse with one foot high.
Pony-tailed dreadlocks, rips in his jeans,
Wounded in the battle of his own life it seems.
Yet regard his hoodied shoulders, straight and proud.
Regard his youth, his gaze, his head unbowed.
Wiley brought him here to Arthur Ashe Boulevard.
The statue sits right here, in Richmond unmarred
the painful mourning after in our own backyard.

Nan Ottenritter lives in Richmond, VA and has driven by the confederate statues for years. Yet in February, 2019 the city council voted to change the name of the Boulevard to Arthur Ashe Boulevard. In December, 2019 Kehinde Wiley’s statue Rumors of War was installed in front of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It stands in stark comparison to the statues on Monument Avenue. With both of these actions the author began to feel a little proud of what was once the capitol of the Confederacy.