Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A statue of Wilder should go where?

Cordel Faulk has a strange piece on today's OpEd page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch -- "Build a statue of Doug Wilder on Capitol Square." The title made me think I would be reading a satirical piece along the lines of what Bart Hinkle might write.
The Old Dominion is a heck of a state, with an awe-inspiring story -- and we Virginians know it. We're not snobs about it or anything, but people who were born in this commonwealth know we are custodians of greatness.
Since plenty of people do see Virginians as "snobs," when I read the line above I was thinking it was still on track to set up a big joke. But as I read on, the humor seemed thin, at best.
In the commonwealth, almost everyone of the dozen-plus people we commemorate on our state capitol grounds made a major national impact.

But something important is missing -- or should I say someone important is missing.

I want to put this bluntly for the honorables and excellencies whom oversee Capitol Square: Build a statue of Lawrence Douglas Wilder.

Finally, I got to the funny part, or at least it was the part that was funnier than anything else.

Wilder's term as mayor may have complicated any effort to sell a statue of him, but seriously, let's have some perspective. His term in City Hall has been rocky, but that doesn't cloud what he has meant to this commonwealth and this nation.

Well, if you like your euphemisms steeped in absurdity, "complicated" will do.

Click here to read Faulk's entire piece.

Maybe the statue of Wilder should be positioned to face the new Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, which was unveiled last month. It would be justice for a replica of Wilder to have to face Barbara Johns in bronze, forever.


Because Mayor L. Douglas Wilder sure wasn't sitting on the platform with the governor, the artist (Stanley Bleifeld) and other invited dignitaries for the dedication last month. Hizzoner snubbed the ceremony to unveil the monument remembering Virginia's heroes of the Civil Rights movement. He has since refused to explain why.

Which leaves some Richmonders, perhaps those with more than a cursory knowledge of Wilder's history and method of operating, to think it had something to do with one or more of his many grudges.

But as far as satire goes, I can't give Faulk a good mark for this effort. Maybe he should spend a little time at Tobacco Avenue, the local news satire blog, where he would learn that good satire is supposed to be funny.

To be funny one would put his statue in Battery Park, because he used money supposedly earmarked for that neighborhood's flood relief effort to fund his failed eviction of the school board -- the infamous Friday Night Fiasco. Or, maybe the Wilder statue would be well positioned in Gwinnett County, Georgia, where the R-Braves will play their home games next summer.

And, just in case Faulk was actually serious about putting a Wilder statue in Capitol Square, I have just one word for that notion -- phooey!

-- Words and art by F.T. Rea


Scott said...

I remember there being some discussion in the past of a Wilder statue on Belvidere/Chamberlyne corridor that would begin an effort to make a new string of statues to rival Monument Avenue. In Oregon Hill, there has been consideration of a monumnent to Grace Arents, but of course she would dislike that notion.

HEK said...

Terry, Scott:

In fact, most people who get statues built to them wouldn't have approved of them--beginning with General Lee and ending with Arthur Ashe. But we put them up for ourselves as statements of memory.

I think it is inevitable that a Wilder monument of some kind will go up; given the passage of time and the immediate and current controversies are just old news, what will be remembered is not actually living with his administration, but the recognition of his achievements.

And of all people, he should've been at the Civil Rights memorial dedication. But people will forget, and forgive, that, too. They always seem to have done so, regarding Wilder.

Anonymous said...

Statues on Capitol Square are reserved for outstanding citizens in Virginia HISTORY. These are memorial statues in that they are to be erected once the honoree has passed away. Perhaps those calling for a statue of Mayor Wilder are hoping for an early departure?? No statue has been or will be installed on Capitol Square for a living person - who is still molding his/her record.