Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces
|This section documents a current matter before city council. Information may change rapidly as the event progresses.|
The commission was tasked with providing council with “options for telling the full story of Charlottesville’s history of race and for changing the City’s narrative through our public spaces.” At its meetings, the commission has sought public input to decide whether monuments in city parks to Confederate generals (Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee) should be relocated or changed to reflect current values, and discussed ways to enhance other historic sites.
The majority of the commission voted to retain the Jackson and Lee statues in place but to re-contextualize them possibly by renaming the parks. A final report was presented to City Council on December 19, 2016.
On February 6, 2017, Council voted to relocate the statue of Robert E. Lee and use the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission to redesign both parks. On June 5, 2017, Council voted to rename Lee Park as Emancipation Park and Jackson Park as Justice Park.
On June 6, 2016, City Council appointed the following members to the Blue Ribbon Commission: 
- Don Gathers, Chair
- John Mason, Vice Chair
- Melvin Burruss
- Andrea Douglas
- Frank Dukes
- Sue Lewis
- Rachel Lloyd, PLACE representative
- Margaret O’Bryant, Historic Resources Committee representative
The Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces is divided into four subcommittees, each focusing on a specific charge from City Council:
Responsibility: Develop engagement format for community forums.
Members: Dukes, Burruss.
Responsibility: Research other cities who have taken on similar responsibilities as the the Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces.
Members: Gathers, Lewis.
Inventory of Historical Sites
Responsibility: Create an inventory of historical sites in the City of Charlottesville that are related to the City Council charge.
Members: Lloyd, Douglass.
Historical Context and Background
Responsibility: Examine the full history of inventoried sites in Charlottesville and research histories that haven't been told.
Members: Mason, O'Bryant, Smith.
On November 1, 2016, the Blue Ribbon Commission voted 6-3 to recommend the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in their respective parks after learning that it would cost approximately $700,000 to relocate the statues.
The commission presented a draft of its report to City Council on November 10, 2016. It recommended that the Robert E. Lee sculpture remain in the park "on the condition that new design and/or reinterpretation transform its context and historical interpretation." The commission also voted unanimously to rename Lee Park.
The report also recommended:
- The addition of a new plaque and memorial on the site of a former slave auction block in Court Square.
- Continued preservation efforts for the Daughters of Zion Cemetery.
- City funding for the proposed Vinegar Hill Park and memorial sculpture.
- Enhancements to the Drewary Brown Bridge and historic resource surveys of African American, Native American and local labor neighborhoods and sites.
The Blue Ribbon Commission's assessment of Lee and Jackson parks and other public spaces accelerated progress on several historic preservation initiatives in the city.
City Council appropriated $80,000 for the rehabilitation of the Daughters of Zion Cemetery following a May 2016 rededication ceremony. 
In September 2016, the city’s Historic Resources Committee presented a plan to establish a park that would commemorate the history of Vinegar Hill to the Blue Ribbon Commission. 
- Web. Resolution: Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces, City of Charlottesville, retrieved Sept 2 2016.
- Web. Statement from Mayor Mike Signer on Charlottesville’s Confederate Memorials, Mike Signer, Press Release, City of Charlottesville, retrieved December 31, 2016.
- Web. "City parks to be redesigned, renamed along with Lee statue removal", Chris Suarez, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, February 7, 2017, retrieved February 8, 2017. Print. February 8, 2017 page A1.
- Web. Charlottesville City Council renames Lee, Jackson parks, Chris Suarez, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, June 5, 2017, retrieved August 2, 2017.
- Web. Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces, City of Charlottesville, retrieved September 7, 2016.
- Web. "Sue Lewis appointed to commission on race and memorials", Chris Suarez, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, August 16, 2016, retrieved October 14 2016.
- Web. "Panel votes to recommend keeping statues in their parks", Chris Suarez, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, November 1, 2016, retrieved November 11, 2016.
- Web. "City of Charlottesville Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces: Report to City Council (Draft), The Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces, City of Charlottesville, November 10, 2016, retrieved November, 11 2016.
- Web. "Creation of blue ribbon panel boosts initiatives already underway in city", Chris Suarez, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, Sept 20 2016, retrieved Oct 14 2016.
- Web. "City Council Agenda: September 6, 2016", City of Charlottesville, September 2016, retrieved October 14, 2016.
- Web. "Vinegar Hill Park plans unveiled, Josh Mandell, September 1, 2016, retrieved October 14, 2016.