Major Lewis Ginter once concluded “There is in Richmond more of historic value than in any city in the country. A circuit of one hundred miles around the city is the arena of more historic events than of any other equal area of the country.” Webster defines historic as “having importance in or influence on history” and I think Ginter was referring to the influence that Richmond and central Virginia have made on the social, political, religious and economic development of the United States.
Since Ginter’s death in 1897, Richmond has expanded on its powerful historic resume and continued to influence the story of America, with a special emphasis on civil rights >> Maggie Walker, John Mitchell Jr., Charles Gilpin, Bo Jangles Robinson, Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson (Brown v. Board of Education), Lewis Powell, Massive Resistance, Arthur Ashe and L. Douglas Wilder are just some of the civil rights examples of Richmond influencing the development of our nation.
I believe Ginter was right about Richmond being the most historic then, and I believe Richmond has continued to lead all other communities in terms of influence on our nation’s development. Start at the Farmers’ Market in Shockoe and go a couple miles in every direction – the profound influence from the events and people that intersected this footprint is quite extraordinary and might by itself outdistance any other community in America. Add to that historic resume the important and influential events that occurred and people that lived in the community known as the Richmond region, and I believe it is quite fair to say that to date Richmond has been far and away the most influential and historic community in the history of America. I am so confident of this fact and so excited to prove this fact that Replenish Richmond is implementing a campaign to do just that.
Community history has never been a competitive sport before and I have watched several professional historians bristle when I mentioned the words “most historic”. But there is precedent – just look at the many comparisons and ratings of the American Presidents and their overall influence. I believe an objective, academic and scientific comparison process can be developed to rate the national influence and historic significance of different communities and the Replenish Richmond Most Influential and Historic Community in America Campaign intends to design that comparison/rating process. The campaign involves the development of a working relationship with the Richmond region’s institutions of higher learning as well as the region’s K-12 schools. The plan is to connect professors, teachers and students of all ages in a collaborative effort to help devise such a comparison process while also compiling a formal historic resume for the Community of Richmond.
Why is this so important? The ultimate goal of this process is to use the power of Richmond’s past to positively shape its future. First we will create a massive wave of community pride in our history that ripples through and beyond Richmond. Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm! This growing pride will spread to other aspects of our lives, igniting a positive cycle impacting all Richmonders. Then we will inspire Richmonders to channel their pride in support of the region’s tourism economy by inviting family, friends and colleagues to visit their most historic hometown. Our past can secure our future if we embrace its power and spread the word.
As you can see, the campaign to establish Richmond as the most influential and historic is less about being #1 and more about the process. The reason Philadelphia, Boston and Charleston are quickly considered more historic than Richmond is related to the pride they have in their history and their embrace of the benefits of a robust tourism economy. If we do the same, we can strengthen the social fabric of our community while creating a strong economic foundation for the foreseeable future.
Richmond can start to secure its economic future by taking full advantage of the massive amount of national and international attention it will receive over the next year related to the 2015 World Cycling Championships to be held in Richmond in September 2015. The 2015 races will bring hundreds of thousands of cycling enthusiasts to Richmond over a two week time-frame and will beam Richmond to 300 million television viewers around the world. A major goal of the Most Influential Campaign is to have our comparison process finalized and the results in so Richmond can proudly and rightly stake its claim for all the world to see and hear.
I have a personal mission to establish Richmond as the best place in the world to live, work and visit. The natural, physical and historic resources necessary to achieve this goal are in place. All that remains is creating a proud and unified Community of Richmond. I believe the campaign to establish Richmond as the most influential and historic in America will lead to increased pride in our community which will inspire increased service to our community. I further believe that the campaign will lead to significantly increased tourism to the Richmond region which will help secure our economic future. It is the ultimate win-win-win situation and guarantees that Richmond will continue to positively influence the development of our country for a long time to come.
Manager, Replenish Richmond, LLC