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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Why a 2nd tier city leads the nation

Because it's a first class town.

After WWII, Richmond was poised to dominate the South. After Atlanta, Richmond was positioned to take the stage. Not only was it the capital of Virginia, it was the symbolic capital of the South. It was (ahem) perhaps the most progressive major city in the old confederacy. Blacks and Jews had made major inroads, neighborhoods were strong and downtown was bustling. It is within the living memory of many Richmonders that the City proper was a proper city. Just what has anybody gained by losing that and just what does anybody lose by restoring that. By most measures, all races were better off.

  • 2nd Street was the referred to as the Black Wall Street
  • Major department stores drew people from 4 states and blurred the boundaries between races.
  • Families, Black/White/Christian or otherwise were strong.
I have often criticized Doug Wilder, but these are the old days of which Mayor Wilder often speaks fondly of and I agree with him. In your yuppie world, this probably seems like unreconstructed heresy. I don't care. He had a lot to teach us. He still does. I don't know what his future plans are. Perhaps Jon does. He has a an insider's view of history. In that I envy him.

In what way does Richmond lead the nation? In community blogging. Why? Because this is such a dynamic community. We are not really so much better than many other places, but we care deeply about it. I often wonder why people who have no right to be, are so bitter. I hear from them often. They rail against anybody who doesn't share their cynicism and bitterness and in the online community, the loudest, meanest voices often dominate. Quiet caring voices are either ignored or unheard. Perhaps a thousand new residents move to the city each year, not to fight it out in the marketplace of ideas, but to find community and invest in the future.

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