As the Richmond Public Art Commission moves to finalize the design of the Maggie Walker Memorial Plaza, the “deciders” seem to flaunt both stubbornness and ignorance.
Currently, the plan will not accommodate the co-existence of an apparently healthy, wonderful specimen of a Southern Live Oak (Quercus Virginiana) with the proposed Maggie Walker statue. Where are the voices of reason, the urban arborists, the historians?
The status of the Commission’s decision process – described in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/15/16 – seems to reflect ignorance of the eloquent, insightful thoughts authored by Graham and Carol Patterson and also published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/15/16. The Pattersons provided solid historical detail specifically linking the important symbolism of the Live Oak to Maggie Walker’s achievements and to Emancipation in general. If the tree is not yet diseased or weakened, their substantive analysis should have provided sufficient basis for reasonable heads to endorse the survival of the tree.
The Live Oak should remain – for all of its aesthetic and environmental benefits, combined with its powerful symbolism of Maggie Walker’s impressive legacy.