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'It Seemed Like Reaching for the Moon.' -- Virginia Civil Rights Memorial Richmond (VA) 2012 | by Ron Cogswell
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'It Seemed Like Reaching for the Moon.' -- Virginia Civil Rights Memorial Richmond (VA) 2012

The Virginia Civil Rights Memorial is a monument in Richmond, commemorating protests that helped bring about school desegregation in the state.


The Memorial was opened in 2008, located on the grounds of the Virginia State Capitol.


It features eighteen statues of leaders in the Virginia civil rights movement on four sides of a rectangular granite stone block, which two quotes are engraved onto.


The Memorial was designed by American sculpture Stanley Bleifeld (1924–2011), who was chosen by the commission overseeing the construction of the Monument. It cost $2.8 million, which was financed by private donations.


The Memorial's dedication was on July 21, 2008, with about 4,000 people in attendance, including Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, relatives of those involved in the protest against school segregation, and civil rights leaders.


In 2005, Virginia Governor Mark Warner and the Virginia General Assembly established the commission to build the Memorial, and ground was broken at the Monument's permanent site in early 2008.


The Memorial is located on the northeast corner of the State Capitol grounds, not far from a statue of Harry F. Byrd, Sr., U.S. Senator from Virginia from 1933-1965 who was the architect of the "Massive Resistance" movement against Virginia school integration in the 1950s and 1960s.


The two quotes engraved on each of the Memorial's long granite sides are:


1. "It seemed like reaching for the moon." — Barbara Rose Johns (1935–1991), a civil rights leader who in 1951, at the age of 16, organized a student strike for equal education at Moton High School in Farmville, Prince Edward County (VA).


2. "The legal system can force open doors and sometimes even knock down walls. But it cannot build bridges. That job belongs to you and me." — Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993).


Image by Ron Cogswell on June 9, 2012, using a Pentax Optio A10 and Photoshop effects.



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Taken on June 9, 2012