The Triangles

Richmond – Liverpool – Benin

  • Richmond sent tobacco and other goods to Liverpool which sent trading goods to Benin and West Africa which sent enslaved people to Richmond.
  • An awful triangle which led to some 12 million humans being removed from their homes and forced in permanent unpaid labor.
  • The Reconciliation Statue is in each of these three places.


Birmingham – Selma – Montgomery

  • Letter from a Birmingham Jail by MLK, Jr asks white ministers why they aren’t outraged at what caused demonstrations. Just five months later, four girls were killed while attending church.
  • Selma’s famed bridge is named for a CSA soldier. Why does it still have that name? Why doesn’t the bridge honor Congressman John Lewis who was beaten on that bridge on Bloody Sunday?
  • Montgomery has Dexter Ave Baptist Church where MLK, Jr was pastor. As of April 2018, it also has the Memorial for Peace and Justice. It honors over 4,000 people who were lynched. 800 steel monuments are permanent placed in the memorial. There are counterparts waiting for 800 counties to claim and display their monument and tell the stories of the lynchings in their boundaries.


If you can’t visit those triangles, then make one visit – to the African-American Museum in Washington, DC. Spend a full day there. Absorb the full story. And, when you’re done – ask someone, anyone of a skin color different from yours, to tell you their story. Listen deeply.


Lead On!



For the past 25 years I’ve lived in 2 cities: Birmingham, Alabama and Richmond, Virginia. These two are integral to African-American history in the US. Richmond was the capital of the Confederate States of America and one of the centers of the slave trade. Birmingham was founded after the Civil War but was a focal point of the Civil Rights Movement and infamously had a bombing in September 1963 which killed four girls who were at their church (the family of one of those girls worshiped at a church where I worked).


Bombingam – it will be a hundred years before it lives down that name – is still living its racist history. Here’s what I witnessed living there from 1995-2005

  • A bombing of a women’s clinic just six blocks from a church I worked at. The bombing killed a police officer and maimed a nurse.
  • I regularly drove on a bridge under which the 1963 bombing was planned
  • I attended briefly the trial of one of the 1963 bombers. The prosecutor is current US Senator Doug Jones; his opponent this November is an ardent support of Donald Trump. Doug will probably lose – to a man who endorses a racist president.
  • I supervised dozens of African-Americans. I always treated them with the same respect I treated everyone else – the way I wanted to be treated.


  • Hollywood Cemetery is the final resting place of over 18,000 CSA soldiers and it has a CSA flag (not the battle flag)
  • Monument Ave was a real estate venture in 1920 and to attract home builders, they erected statues of CSA generals, all sons of Virginia. Those statues honor men who were traitors to the USA. A few years ago a statue of Arthur Ashe was added, but the rest of Virginia’s history is completely ignored on Monument Ave.
  • Maggie Walker got a statue in the city a few years ago. She was the first female bank president and the first African-American bank president. But it took almost a century after her death for her to be honored.


These cities have scars. Your city has scars, too. They may be covered up (16th St Baptist Church was repaired after the bombing) or they may be on a pedestal (as Robert E Lee is in Richmond), but they’re there. Acknowledge the scars, learn from them, talk about them with others. Never forget what made the scars lest you cause more scars.


Lead On!


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