Phil Wilayto 
Member since Jan 23, 2014

Recent Comments

Re: “Why They Keep Fighting: Richmond Protesters Explain Their Resistance to Trump's America

Report: Along with the patriots who threw the tea in Boston Harbor, I suppose? Let alone those who took up arms against King George.

16 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Phil Wilayto on 03/28/2017 at 4:31 PM

Re: “Will He or Won’t He? Levar Stoney Is Holding Out on a Potential Mayor Bid

Mayor Jones is from Philadelphia. Gov. McAuliffe is from New York. Sen. Mark Warner is from Indianapolis. Sen. Tim Kaine is from Saint Paul, Minnesota. About half of all Virginians were born outside Virginia. One in nine Virginians was born in another country. What's your point, Mr. Wilder? Are you handing out state membership cards now?

7 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Phil Wilayto on 04/12/2016 at 9:58 PM

Re: “12 Telling Moments From Richmond's First Mayoral Forum

On Wilder's Shockoe Bottom question: It wasn't just about "marking the history of slavery in Shockoe Bottom." All 12 candidates said that, if elected mayor, they would "create a historic district in Shockoe Bottom to commemorate African American heritage." While not an explicit endorsement of the community proposal for a Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park, it was a pointed rejection of the narrow memorial being pursued by Mayor Jones. Anyway, at least Style mentioned the issue. The T-D skipped it altogether. (For information on the community proposal, see:

0 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Phil Wilayto on 04/07/2016 at 5:09 PM

Re: “LETTER: Instead of Destroying, Try Understanding

What total nonsense. The objections to the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue are that (1) they are a shrine to the Lost Cause of Defending Slavery; (2) they present a deeply distorted view of history; and (3) they are racially offensive. Moving them to a museum where they can be studied in a real historical context doesn't mean Bojangles also has to go. As far as is known, he never owned human beings.

5 likes, 14 dislikes
Posted by Phil Wilayto on 06/30/2015 at 5:59 PM

Re: “Peddling the Past

It looks like letter writers to Style share the same deep moral morass as those who write to the RTD. Reality check: All the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue were put up decades after the Civil War. They were meant to announce to the world that the Southern oligarchy had overthrown Reconstruction and was back in charge. Richmond Planet Editor John Mitchell Jr. wrote about this when the first statue, to the slave-owning Robert E. Lee, went up to the sound of cannons and cheered by tens of thousands of proponents of the Lost Cause mythology. The UCI race organizers didn't decide to showcase Monument Avenue because it's a nice wide street, they did it because they really think it's a grand boulevard that truly represents the best of Richmond. They could at least have made the half-way turn at the Arthur Ashe statue, which would have been a symbolic if weak acknowledgement of changing times, but no, they made it at the monument to the president of the Confederacy. Face it, they're proud of that street and the values they claim it represents. And who are these fine leaders ? They're many of the same politicians and corporate chiefs who are still trying to drop a baseball stadium into the heart of what once was the epicenter of the U.S. domestic slave trade. Ignore all this all you want, but the rest of the world will get the shameful message loud and clear: 150 years after the Civil War and the end of slavery, the former capital of the Confederacy is still honoring those who took up arms against their own country in defense of an economy and way of life based on enslaving Black people, in effect continuing to say that Black Lives Do Not Matter - not in 1619, not in 1865 and not in 2015.

24 likes, 35 dislikes
Posted by Phil Wilayto on 03/25/2015 at 1:11 PM

Re: “Bottoming Out

Purchasing this Shockoe Bottom property would be a good step forward IF City Council is committed to developing part of it as a memorial site. Otherwise, any memorialization would take place only in the small sliver of land between I-95 and the CSX railroad tracks - out of sight and out of mind. Economic development can take place in the Bottom IF a memorial area is included east of the tracks and IF the economic development is compatible with a historic district - which would attract far more income for the City in terms of tourism dollars than more small-scale, for-profit businesses. For a concrete proposal, see

9 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Phil Wilayto on 12/09/2014 at 3:00 PM

Re: “Retracing Steps

So much confusion. Here's some clarity:

* No one is suggesting that there be no economic development in Shockoe Bottom, only that it be appropriate for the serious historical nature of the area. A baseball stadium is not appropriate.

* The mayor suggested a slavery museum - IF he got his stadium. Richmond's Black community has yet to weigh in on whether it even wants a museum. But at this point most Richmonders recognize there needs to be some kind of memorial.

* Shockoe Bottom is NOT like any other Black historical site. It was the epicenter of the massive U.S. domestic slave trade, sending enslaved people to the OTHER slave markets throughout the South. It's unique. In fact, the majority of Black people today could trace some ancestry to those few square blocks.

* Suppose there is a slavery museum in Richmond. Who would come to see it? Many of the same people who the city of Charleston, S.C., is betting are going to visit its new $70 million museum explaining the history of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, in which it was the central U.S. player.

* Besides, that's an ignorant question. Who would go to see a museum about the Jewish Holocaust? Well, since that museum opened in D.C. 21 years ago, 37.3 million people, an average of 1.8 million a year. Who were they? 24% were school children, 12% from other countries, 96 were heads of state, and 3,500 were foreign officials from over 132 countries. 90% were not Jewish. (See…)

* The vast majority of the visitors to a Richmond memorial - whether it's a museum, an interpretive center, a genealogy center, a memorial park - would be from out of town. That means they would stay in hotels and motels, eat in restaurants, visit other parts of the city and spend money at many local businesses. Baseball fans do NOT go out to dinner after a ball game. They've already had their hot dogs and beer. If they did, there would be more restaurants today on the Boulevard. And as for 400,000 fans buying tickets to see the Squirrels, that money does NOT go to the City of Richmond. It goes to the team, which is a private, profit-making corporation. Use your heads, people.

* And finally, it's true that only talking about Shockoe Bottom in economic terms is an insult to the people who suffered and resisted there. But in Richmond, talking money is the only way to get most people's attention. Any decent, healthy city would memorialize a place line Shockoe Bottom simply because it's the right thing to do. But this is the town that is Stuck on Stupid. It can't see the value of doing the right thing, either morally or economically. But one way or the other , Shockoe Bottom will be reclaimed and memorialized, but it will probably happen with a lot if ignorant people screaming in pain.

For the latest updates on this struggle, see

19 likes, 18 dislikes
Posted by Phil Wilayto on 11/05/2014 at 3:48 PM

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