Virginia is a state that has informed our nation’s history significantly since our founding. This year, Virginians remember the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to their state. The city of Richmond, as the State capital and the former capital of the Confederacy, has held discussions and events to mark this milestone. Richmond is a majority-people-of-color city, ahead of the national curve on demographic change with 48 percent black and 12 percent identifying as other than white. And, its recent population growth has been even between whites and people of color. However, unemployment is more than three times higher among black workers (14 percent) than their white counterparts (4 percent). The wage gap is also a major barrier for Richmond’s economic vitality with white workers paid approximately $20,000 more per year than black and Latino workers. Richmond’s metro economy could be $14 billion stronger without racial income gaps. More than 1 in 6 young people of color are neither working nor in school. And, more than 3 out of 4 jobs in Richmond are held by workers living outside the city limits.
In Richmond we conducted individual interviews and led several small group discussions, both with Richmond Hill and Initiatives of Change. At the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Mayor Landrieu discussed how local leaders can tackle critical social issues including racism and racial disparities, the history and symbolism of monuments, how to chart a path toward dismantling inequities, and how their two cities can learn from each other. We also conducted focus groups with non-college-educated black and white residents and college-educated black residents, all under the age of 35. Learn more by reading the full report.