RICHMOND, Va. — Just days after the statue of Robert E. Lee was taken down from Monument Avenue, Richmond Public School launched a new augmented reality historic walking tour that aims to showcase untold stories of Black resilience in Richmond.
The “Monumental Conversations” app was a collaboration between RPS, various Richmond museums, local community members, and RPS students, who helped design the app. Although the launch event was scheduled prior to the date of the statue removal, officials said the timing was important to highlight the ongoing conversation about under-told stories of Richmond’s past.
“It’s about telling the full history of Richmond: the good, the bad, and the ugly,” said RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras at a launch event outside the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.
Users download the app, then scan QR codes as they walk the 1.2-mile route along Arthur Ashe Boulevard and Monument Avenue.
The app then displays visual/audio stories of Black Richmond to “spotlight the immense contributions of the African American community to Richmond’s stature and to acknowledge the injustices that have long plagued our city’s minority residents, while also asking students and community members to weigh in on what comes next for this historic stretch of road.”
“At its core, ‘Monumental Conversations’ is about one thing: elevating the voices of Richmond’s residents who have historically been marginalized and unheard at a systematic level,” said Grady Hart, with RPS Community Engagement.
“You can’t understand totally who you are, until you’ve had a chance to see where your people have been,” said RPS School Board Chair Cheryl Burke.
John Marshall High 11th grader Lamarion Eubanks helped design the app after taking an immersive course through RPS called, “REAL Richmond History.”
Eubanks said his work on the project was rewarding, and as the city begins to rethink what Monument Avenue looks like, his work got him thinking about what he would like to see there.
“I hope they can look at ‘Monumental’ as a part of their history or as themselves,” Eubanks said. “I think Monument Avenue needs more people that look like me… I would say to the city, we’re here, we’ve always been here, and we’re always going to stay here.”
Click here to learn more about the project and try out the app.