(Richmond, VA) - On February 22, 2019, 59 years after the arrests of the Richmond 34, a two day celebration on the campus of Virginia Union University (VUU) ended with the expungement of their records at the John Marshall Richmond City Court.
“Today, our beloved Richmond 34 finally received the justice and recognition they deserve,” said Dr Hakim Lucas, President and CEO of Virginia Union University. “They courageously led a protest against segregation and were arrested because of the color of their skin. We thank our living legends for their sacrifice.
The day started with a breakfast at the Governor’s Mansion with Gov. Ralph Northam, followed by a proclamation by Delegate Deloris McQuinn on the floor of the General Assembly.
"They used exceptional restraint to lead a peaceful protest against a evil system of bigotry and discrimination," Del. McQuinn said. "However they moved forward that day, and made an extraordinary difference in terms of south segregated policies and practices. We are recognizing them today for their sacrifices.”
The afternoon ended with a program called: “A Journey Back in Time: Commemorating the 59th Anniversary of the Richmond 34,” which included a panel discussion and a viewing of the trailer for “Richmond 34: American Heroes” by filmmaker Brian Bullock. During the program, the office of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney proclaimed February 22, 2019 to be “Richmond 34 Day.”
VUU began its two-day commemoration of the Richmond 34 during a “Faith, Identity, and Social Justice” chapel service. Rev. Dwight C. Jones, Sr., former mayor of the City of Richmond, was the keynote speaker on Thursday, February 21, 2019, with remarks given by Richmond 34 member Elizabeth Johnson Rice and VUU Student Government Association President Jamon Phenix ’19.
“We made a difference in 1960. Today, having our records cleared puts a little cap on history.” Rice joked, “Now we can go on and do something else.”
Although their convictions were overturned, their arrest records weren’t wiped clean. It wasn’t until retired professor Dr. A.J. Franklin was attempting to catch an international flight when he was flagged by Homeland Security. It was then that he discovered that the arrest record was still on file.
About VUU: Virginia Union University is a premier liberal arts urban institution of higher education and center of excellence for the preparation of students and the development of leaders for tomorrow’s world. It was founded in 1865 to give newly emancipated slaves an opportunity for education and advancement. Virginia Union University offers a broad range of educational opportunities that advances liberal arts education, teaching, research, science, technology, continuing education, civic engagement, and international experiences. Visit https://www.vuu.edu/ for more information.