Finding America: UnMonumental

UnMonumental is a weekly series about how we remember our past in Richmond. Stories air every Friday morning and afternoon.  

UnMonumental is produced by Kelley Libby and brought to you by WVTF/Radio IQ and Finding America, a national initiative produced by AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio, Incorporated, and with financial support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Wyncote Foundation, the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.  


The story of racial inequality and tension in Charlottesville—as in many American cities—is older, more complex, and largely untold than what unfolded on August 12th.

Join us for a panel discussion, including UnMonumental's Kelley Libby, about how journalists cover race and racism in American communities. Hosted by Kyle Pope, editor and publisher of Columbia Journalism Review, and Brendan Fitzgerald, director of CJR’s United States Project on Monday, September 18th at The Haven at First and Market in Charlottesville.

Ways to Connect

When a Librarian Heard "You're Like Me"

May 6, 2016

My name is Cristina Ramírez, although people here in the States probably say ‘Cristina Ramirez’ because it’s easier and it’s hard to roll your ‘r’s’ and the ‘th’ sound for the ‘z.’ I have that skillset—I speak Spanish, I’m Latina, but I’m also a Professional Librarian.

When a Car Ride Led to Friendship

Apr 28, 2016

This is how a friendship started. 

Paige Chargois was picking up her newspaper at the Independent Living community where she lives in Richmond. That’s when she met a woman who appeared to be lost. The woman was a new neighbor, and she needed to get to a bank to cash a check.


When Diversity Became An Asset

Apr 22, 2016


Matthew Freeman grew up in Richmond’s West End. His family moved to the white flight suburb when his father became pastor of a Henrico church in the early 1980s.


“So I grew up in that kind of suburban environment—very conservative religiously, politically. The people around me, and me myself, went to great public schools but in a very homogeneous environment,” says Freeman.


His environment, however, wasn’t completely homogeneous.

In the 1950s, construction of Interstate 95 in Richmond divided the Jackson Ward neighborhood, and then construction of the Richmond Coliseum leveled other parts of it. 

“There were just some things that were deeply rooted in the hearts of the black community that pretty much were just wiped off the planet and paved over,” says Lori “Coach” Hunter.

Hunter was a child when she witnessed the destruction of her family’s neighborhood, including her grandmother’s home.

Creative Commons

Brian Phelps grew up outside of Richmond in the 1990s, and he says the Confederate flag was a big part of people’s lives in his community.

“Being from the Richmond area, we have a strong southern heritage—a lot of people like to call it—and I was like any kid that grew up in my area and kind of always had this ‘it's heritage not hate kind of concept.’”

But when Brian was in middle school, something changed. He says it happened when he was alone in his room, listening to a BB King CD he had bought from the cheap bin at Circuit City.