Words by Cheats, (Peep My Feet photos by Cheats)
I guess I should start this post by saying, “My name is Cheats, and I’m a recovering sneakerholic. I’ve been clean for about 2 months now and I’m just taking it one day at time.” Naugh seriously, I remember the exact moment when I realized The Power of The Sneaker. It was 1990 and I was a middle school student at Brookland Middle School (yes, the one right off Parham). I remember before first period, we played sports outside. There were games of 2-hand touch football, basketball (when the rims were up), and handball (right outside of building T). Well, back then, Brookland had its share of fights. We all knew the drill, if a fight broke out, we would all run towards it to see what was happening. Well, there was one morning, we were outside playing before school, and all of a sudden the whole school was running over to where we played handball, and when I say the entire school – I mean the entire school - was running over to the handball court. So like everyone else, I thought it was a fight and I ran over too. When I got there, I saw one of my classmates, Paul, standing in the middle of a circle and the entire school was staring at his new Jordan V sneakers, the Red Fire Jordans with the 23 on the side. I’d never seen anything like it. The best part of the story, is that Brookland had a lot of cats with style and personality – but Paul was not one of them. Paul was a quiet, I dare to say, nerdy type kid, with a small group of friends. That morning, my friend Paul went for being nearly invisible at Brookland Middle to the most popular kid in school. That may not mean much to you – but to me – in middle school – that was unreal. All day long Paul was getting high fives from strangers – kids that never talk to him before was asking him, “Yo, Where you get those?” The next day or so reality sat back in because other “cooler” kids got the Jordans that week. BUT Paul had them first and from that morning on – I understood the power of the sneaker. As misguided as middle school popularity was….it stuck with me for life.
Victor Cruz – sporting the Jordan V Red Fire – Paul had them first.
I really love sneakers and that’s why I was so excited when found out about the inaugural Peep My Feet event last week at the Camel. S/O to the homie Noah-O, him, along with Chris North and Kharee Hamilton, they really spearheaded this effort to bring over 20 vendors to The Camel to check, buy, and trade sneakers and vintage clothes.
Noah O and Chris North making moves…
You can’t deny the correlation between sneakers and hip hop culture. From the birth of hip hop in NYC, you had the sneaker, the gold chain, and the Kangol (pretty much the Kangol – unless you were on some Whoodini black cowboy stuff). You had the toothbrush to keep them clean, it was a glorious time. I didn’t really get into sneakers until I could afford to buy my own in high school. My man Matt B had a crazy shoe game in high school and college – I was just trying to keep up. But all over the country, sneakerheads were being born and raised through hip hop culture. It’s big business now and it good to see the entire culture being embraced.
The gold chain has been replaced but sneakers and caps are a still key elements of hip hop culture
The DJ always holds down the event. Swerve is one of the best in RVA.
For more information on Peep My Feet – Check out RVA Sneakerhead Community on Facebook
Last night, my homegirl, Patience Salgado AKA Kindness Girl did an amazing job as the special guest for the Richmond Comedy Coalition’s Richmond Famous show at Gallery 5. But Patience was not alone, she called on her good friend Jennifer Lemons-Driskell AKA The Checkout Girl to rock a ukulele sing along. It was a great time. Below are some of the photos. I’m so excited about the things The Cheats Movement Family has in store for 2013 and it was a real family affair last night. If you don’t know already the Richmond Comedy Coalition is in process of opening their new theater on Broad Street. Support them as best you can. Patience and The Cheats Movement Blog (along with so many others) are always working on projects to bridge the gap in this city. RVA, good things are happening. #WESEEIT
Words by Duron Chavis (Brother Manifest)
Some of my fondest memories are of working for the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia as a tour guide. From elementary school aged children to senior citizens, it was my responsibility to interpret the history of African American’s in Richmond Virginia to diverse audiences - literally every day. The permanent installation on the history of Jackson Ward served as, perhaps, the most inspirational tours I ever gave though it wouldn’t be until almost 10 years later that I would find out the more intimate reasons for the demise of the, “Harlem of the South.”
Jackson Ward was created around 1870 and was originally home to free Africans, German, Irish and Italian immigrants. During Reconstruction free African Americans overwhelmingly moved into the area and by 1920 Jackson Ward was the center of black business for the city of Richmond. Due to American apartheid, in the form of segregation laws and exclusionary local attitudes by people of European descent, Jackson Ward developed independently both politically and economically from the rest of Richmond. In 1940, an estimated 5,000 African Americans lived in Jackson Ward. From retail businesses, insurance companies, lawyers, doctors, churches, newspapers, banks, fraternal orders, beauty shops and entertainment facilities Jackson Ward existed as a city within a city. The success of Jackson Ward was built on the principle of interdependence which is essential for strong resilient communities and the backbone for success for any group in our society.
Renown nationwide for its social scene, Jackson Ward was a famous stopping point for musical greats such as Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. Artists would stay at the Hotel Eggleston or the Harris Hotel on 2nd Street and later perform at the Hippodrome Theatre. At least 5 black banks would find home in Jackson Ward, including the St. Luke Penny’s Saving bank founded by Maggie Lena Walker the first black woman to start a bank. The culmination of the five would take shape in the form of Consolidated Bank and trust as a result of the economic turmoil resultant from the Great Depression. Black owned insurance company Southern Aide Life Insurance would find it’s home at 3rd and Clay street. Waller’s Jewelry, the Richmond Planet, Chalmer’s Beauty School, fraternal orders such as the Knights of Pythagoras, churches like Sixth Mount Zion and Ebenezer Baptist Church all would find their roots deeply planted in Jackson Ward and this was before 1950 less than 100 years after the end of the Civil War.
Imagine the economic power of having dollars turn over so many times in your community. Say for instance, you were a promoter of shows that featured Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. Chances are you had a bank account with a black owned bank, life insurance with a black owned insurance company; you booked your acts at a black owned theatre and had them stay in a black owned hotel. They would then eat at a black owned restaurant, you would have gotten your clothes tailor made from a black tailor, your watch fixed by a black jeweler all the while holding membership in a black fraternal order and on Sunday you gave tithe and offering at a black church afterwards you could stop and pick up a copy of a black owned newspaper in the form of the Richmond Planet. Talk about black power! With 25% of the city’s population being overwhelmingly black, a resurgence of this type of economic self-sufficiency is certainly a way to re-emerge the city of Richmond from it’s current state.
Makes you wonder what happened right? Well a common misnomer is that the collapse of historically black neighborhoods and Black Wall Streets was a byproduct of integration with the inference that it was African American’s overwhelming desire to support businesses other than their own. The truth is that the opportunity to participate freely in mainstream America without concern of a white’s only sign may have had an effect on the Harlem of the South but the demise of Jackson Ward was a much more complicated, uncomfortably more insidious and unfortunately deliberate act.
Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s statue in Jackson Ward
In response to the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt enacted the New Deal in the 1930’s which instituted a myriad of economic programs with intentions of boosting the American economy. Sounds good right? Well it was if your ethnic persuasion was fit for the salvation. As it related to housing, the Homeowners Loan Corporation (HOLC) was designed to refinance homes to prevent foreclosure. Field workers for the HOLC went through communities rating neighborhoods to determine if eligibility for refinancing. African American neighborhoods were given the lowest rating regardless of how much the median income for their respective communities with white communities even if on the decline receiving higher grades. This affected how much, if any, assistance was given to communities like Jackson Ward during one of the most economically trying times this country has yet to face.
Similar to the HOLC, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) that was charged with guaranteeing low interest loans with small down payments and long-term payback periods. This program discriminated as well and refused to give loans to African Americans even if they had good credit. The FHA used the racist ratings determined by the HOLC to deny African Americans neighborhoods both loans and mortgages. If property ownership especially homeownership is the foundation of wealth, then African American neighborhoods had successfully been locked out of the giving circle while others got assistance without any semblance of similar obstacle.
To add insult to injury, the development of public housing targeted African American neighborhoods despite the original purpose of them being for people of all ethnicities. The suburbs didn’t get any public housing developments at all in Richmond. Centralizing public housing in and around traditionally African American neighborhoods in the city of Richmond, in the case of Jackson Ward - Gilpin Court, which meant the centralization of poverty close to and inside of black neighborhoods. That wouldn’t have been so bad had there not been the final deathblow administered by way of the initiation of the Interstate Highway program that would be built directly through the middle of Jackson Ward – despite the community being against the idea. State and city legislators created the Richmond Metropolitan Authority and built the highway anyway despite multiple public community vote downs. Seven thousand African Americans or 10% of Jackson Wards population would be displaced by this act of economic violence.
The interesting thing about the highway, the new deal programs, and the development of public housing in and or around traditionally African American neighborhood was that Jackson Ward in Richmond was not the exception to the rule. This was no anomaly. In fact when one does the research you find that every major metropolitan city across America followed the same blueprint that would crush the economic fortitude of major black epicenters that had been forced to develop out of necessity due to segregation. It was as if a memo was passed down from some secret meeting that read “this is how you stop black people from gaining political and economic power in your city.”
During this time of urban renewal; of course the civil rights movement was in swing working to provide access for African American’s into mainstream America. Inherently this is the way that it should be. Irrespective of such overwhelming economic terrorism, lawyers and activists in Jackson Ward would go on to spearhead numerous landmark efforts during the civil rights movement – with notables such as Oliver Hill locating their offices in Jackson Ward. Hill served on the legal defense team for the NAACP and championed cases such as the Brown vs. Board of Education. He would later become the first black person to serve on city council since Reconstruction in 1948. Henry Marsh III had offices in Jackson Ward, and his work on Bradley vs. Richmond School Board instituted school bussing programs to racially integrate the school system. He would later become the city’s first black mayor in 1966. The Richmond Crusade for Voters had its offices in Jackson Ward and fought for voting rights for people of African descent to be able to participate fully in the political system. The Richmond NAACP offices were in Jackson Ward and their work organizing sit-ins broke led to the first sit in at Woolworths. Efforts from leaders from right here in Richmond VA by way of Jackson Ward helped shape the civil rights movement immeasurably. Funding for these efforts came by way of businesses like Virginia Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company and citizens living right in Jackson Ward.
Oliver Hill and (a daper) Henry Marsh III. Civil Rights legends made power moves in Jackson Ward.
It is a hard argument to hypothesize what Jackson Ward would have been had its neighborhood been given high ratings and its residents had access to the same loans, refinancing options and mortgages that their white counterparts had been given, had a highway not been built through the middle of the neighborhood and public housing not been placed there virtually at the same time. Of course the convergence of so many economic wrecking balls aimed directly at a specific demographic would leave any community reeling. Once one takes into account the cumulative impacts of these events taking place simultaneously over two decades and the subsequent divestment from Richmond, Virginia in mass in the forms of massive resistance and white flight in response to integration, and later the influx of crack cocaine into
public housing developments in the late seventies and eighties – one starts getting a full scope of what communities like Jackson Ward were up against to
The economic violence done unto Jackson Ward was like a poisonous dart. it didn’t kill instantly – and great works were done in spite of; however it was an orchestrated attempt none the less. One thing is for certain, you can kill the messenger but you can’t kill the message. The lessons of interdependence learned from Jackson Ward are timeless and even more relevant today than ever before.
Current revitalization efforts of Jackson Ward are under way, however due to influences from the market and stifling poverty, intensive gentrification has inspired a major influx from the individuals with much higher financial means that the neighborhood’s historical inhabitants. What used to be for blacks only is slowly becoming too expensive a place for the city’ black residents to live. The black owned businesses that were once a mainstay of Jackson Ward are being replaced by white owned businesses or businesses that cater to “mixed audiences”. Croaker Spot – one of the oldest black owned restaurants in the city, owned by descendants of Neverett Eggleston – founder of The Eggleston Hotel – moved to newly developed areas of the city in Manchester. Consolidated Bank and Trust – once the oldest black owned bank in the country was sold to a white company in recent years. The Hippodrome theatre once feature legendary black acts who wouldn’t have been able to get major headlines in white venues. Ironically now, often feature non-black acts and are done by non-black promoters. Funny story, the venue had a show by a local band, from Richmond, called, “Black Girls,” which was paradoxically an all white male college-rock band. No one seemed to notice the irony tho…
Rebuilt – The Hippodrome now stands tall in Jackson Ward.
Duron Chavis (Brother Manifest) is the director of Happily Natural Day and coordinator of the Mcdonough Community Garden. He will be writing about RVA Black History every Friday this month.
So first things first…This is the best Richmond Famous Poster that I have ever seen. I just love it. My friend David works really hard on these posters and this one is a complete takes the cake. With that said, what can I say about Patience that has not already been said a million times? Nothing. She’s as amazing as advertised and if you don’t believe me…see for yourself this Friday as she is the featured guest for the Richmond Comedy Coalition’s Richmond Famous. As you might guess, I’m a huge fan of these shows. Patience is going to be wonderful. Click HERE to RSVP on FB and more importantly Click HERE to buy your advance ticket. I hear these things sell out so you want to guarantee your seat now.
Like most of you…I drove, or walked, pass the VMFA a million times since October saying, “Yo…I have to check out the Chihuly exhibit…someday.” Well, I started with having, what seem to be, an eternity to, “Oh snap…it’s the last weekend.” Should I go and fight the crowd or sit this one out? I decided to break out the camera and hit the last Saturday of the exhibit. I’m so glad I did. Everyone in RVA should have seen this exhibit and judging by the very impressive numbers of the VMFA (nearly 16,000) so many of you did.
What impressed me the most about the exhibit was the imagination. Art takes all forms. With Chihuly, his work can never be put in a box because as soon as you do – he can change it up. It’s awesome. It’s freedom.
According to the RTD: “Chihuly proved to be a boon for the museum. Memberships reached nearly 40,000 — it was at about the same level during the Picasso exhibit at the VMFA in 2011 — and the Museum Shop had record sales in November, December and January.” I saw the Picasso exhibit (again on the last weekend), and I would say Chihuly was even more impressive. I know it’s not exactly comparing apples to apples but my read of the “Cheats Wow Factor”…Chihuly was a wow on the highest level.
Make sure you visit: The Cheats Movement Blog on Facebook to support the best in RVA. #WESEEIT
S/O to the homie Noah-O. RVA, in general, has been dealing with a lot of grief lately…good people leaving us too early. Noah-O hooks up with the homie Taylor Whitelow to remember Kleph Dollaz. The video is directed by another Grindaholic Rob Roby (Soul Live Media). In tough times – I love how these brothers are channeling their energy.
Words by Duron Chavis (Brother Manifest)
Richmond is a very complicated place. Despite how complex its history, the one thing that is indisputable is that Richmond was once the biggest enslaved African trading industry outside of New Orleans. One can’t begin to part lips to speak on Richmond as a historical city without taking a moment of silence over its role in the Maafa, or African Holocaust. Why Richmond though? What made Richmond such a pivotal place for the traffic of human beings? There is so much to talk about on this topic, for the sake of brevity and your attention span I am going to get straight to the point. Richmond made a name for itself as the market for enslaved Africans.
The earliest sales of kidnapped Africans took place at Manchester Docks in areas such as Rocketts Landing. During the 1700’s the importation of kidnapped Africans was seen as a lucrative business opportunity by British merchants. Once the country broke revolted against Britain in 1775 and gained independence in 1782; the question of whether importing kidnapped Africans from overseas was raised, not from the stance of whether it was morally destitute to keep African people in perpetual servitude – more so if it was financially savvy to keep importing them from overseas. In the North, they built ships to import kidnapped Africans. In Virginia, the argument was raised that if the importation stopped the financial value of the children of kidnapped Africans would rise. The Virginia General Assembly outlawed the importation of kidnapped Africans in 1778. The federal government outlawed the practice 30 years later in 1808.
Virginia saw a vision for African people in the late 1700s and that was as a commodity. The expansion into the lower South gave rise to states such Louisana, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. The tobacco that had made the original colonies successful was failing due to depleted soils from over cultivation of the land. Planters decided to move south. They took the children of kidnapped Africans with them and the interstate slave trade exploded with these migrations due to the ban on importation. Historians theorize that the origin of the term being “sold down the river” has its origins in Virginia, for much of the work in the lower south cotton fields was so intensive. It is estimated that from 1830 to 1860 Virginia sold 300,000 of the progeny of kidnapped Africans into the lower south for perpetual bondage. Wealthy plantation owners took advantage of the ban on importation. Virginia was known as a slave trading state and Richmond was its capital.
By 1845, less than 40 years after the ban on importation of kidnapped Africans – the city of Richmond listed 9 agents associated with the slave trade. By 1860 it listed 18 negro traders, 18 agents and 33 auctioneers all of whom were in the business of selling enslaved Africans. The Richmond Enquirer reported in 1857 that the receipts for slave auctions in the city totaled $3.5 million dollars. If we calculate for inflation that is the equivalent of $92,000,000 dollars today.
The sale of enslaved Africans was big business. There were large traders, small traders, agents, brokers, jail houses and auctioneers not to mention specialty retail merchants that sold the chains and shackles. You remember the movie Django right? Remember in the opening scene where you saw the shackles on the feet of Django and the rest of the coffle? A coffle was group of slaves that were manacled together and walked to auction for sale while attached to a wagon. Somebody specialized in selling shackles. Somebody specialized in selling clothing for enslaved Africans, because when sold at auction they would get a much better price. You had people who sold enslaved African women as sex slaves, domestic servants, concubines and prostitutes. Businessmen specialized in being bounty hunters or paddy rollers to capture runaway enslaved Africans. There were insurance salesmen who would insure an enslaved African as someone’s property or as part of their estate. There were ships that were contracted to transport slaves down the river and along the coast lines. Railroads companies were used to do the same. There were ad agencies that advertised the auctions. The physique, specialty, skill, mental ability or training and temperament all played a role in determining price and there were businesses that catalogued and assessed what characteristics an enslaved African had in order to determine how much he or she would be sold for. The purchase and sale of enslaved Africans was interwoven into the very fabric of the city.
Auctions took place in the streets, taverns and hotels of Shockoe Bottom. The most infamous jail was Lumpkins jail – located at 15th street between Franklin and Broad Street. Countless enslaved Africans passed through the jailhouses as they awaited sale. The African Burial Ground on the opposite side is where Africans who died in the jail from diseases, or were too rebellious and were hanged. Free blacks were also buried in the African Burial Ground. Gabriel, an enslaved African who led a rebellion in Richmond, Virginia with a plan and strategy to kidnap the governor and hold him hostage was also hanged and it is said he is buried in the African Burial Ground as well. It is only recently within the last 3 years that the African Burial Ground has been recognized by the city officially and there has been no archeological studies on the site to determine the size and scope of this mass grave.
Each time I walk in Shockoe Bottom, when I walk past the farmers market on 17th Street – when my feet hit those cobble stones, I think to myself these are the same cobblestones my ancestors feet walked on in shackles to be sold to the highest bidder. I walk past restaurants and clubs and think to myself – these places of entertainment and food were once boudoirs and auction houses. I visited a similar farmers market in London England that had the same exact cobblestones and design as Shockoe Bottom. The offices used to hold businesses that made their profit on the backs of my ancestors, for I am the progeny of enslaved Africans – living in Richmond Virginia. Slavery was an international business that localized itself in the states particularly Richmond ,VA to maximize its profit margin. Each time I pick up a magazine that promotes Richmond as a historic city – I crack a half smile – understanding that the whole story is hardly ever told. When I hear about plans to rebrand the city – that gloss over one of the most important aspects of the cities past – I say a silent prayer that one day we will realize we can’t run from this history; it lives with us to this day. When I think about the systemic poverty in the city, the disparity between those who have and those who have not – I remember that the roots of that disparity were created right here in Richmond, Virginia.
Take a moment to review the work of the Richmond City Council Slave Trail Commission. CLICK HERE
Duron Chavis (Brother Manifest) is the director of Happily Natural Day and coordinator of the Mcdonough Community Garden. He will be writing about RVA Black History every Friday this month.
I’m not sure how I keep getting these great opportunities, but my latest mural/installation is yet another example of community inspiration at its finest. A couple of months ago I was approached by the Director of Peter Paul Development Center, Damon Jiggetts, about creating something inspiring in his office. This was a first, as I’ve never been seriously asks to create something in a office setting. After sitting down Damon I quickly realized that we had similar motives. Damon is just one of those guys who really believes in the Peter Paul Development Center and the community he serves. His idea was to create a piece that not only brightened up the space but also be a catalyst that represented why the development center exist; to empower and strengthen the youth in this neighborhood. A big thank you to Damon Jiggets for the inspiration behind this piece, may it be the start to many long conversations.
#PeterPaul #DevelopmentCenter #Inspiration #RVA #BoyWonder #Cape #Whosham #HamiltonGlass #Northside #Super #Community #Love #WeSeeIt
Peter Paul Development Center is located at: 1708 N. 22nd Street, Richmond, VA
There has been so much RVA hip hop coming out lately that I really can’t keep up with it all. I appreciate every artist that sends me their latest work: mixtapes, singles, videos, etc. and I apologize that I can’t get everything posted as fast as I would like BUT keep sending it my way (CheatsMWC@gmail.com). The Cheats Movement Blog will continue to be a outlet for all RVA music and, in particular, RVA hip hop. So with no further delay — Here is what I’m turning up right now:
What can I say about Sweet Petey’s latest joint. Nick F brought it hard on, “Vices.” He is receiving well deserved national attention for the mixtape that features RVA emcees, Radio B and Michael Millions along with his Tokyo Ave Fam, Conrizzle AKA Loochey Lovely, and YMCMB’s Drizzy Drake. Of course, Nick is a beast when it comes to his rhymes and he killed it on Vices. My favorite track on the tape today (it changes all the time) is Pem Pen.
Pem Pen – Sweet Petey ft. Loochey Lovely
Number 15 – Sweet Petey ft. Drake
The Grindaholic himself Octavion X dropped his latest solo project, “Vigilante” in November of last year. While many folks that I’ve talked to believe “Vigliante” to be his best solo project to date (I believe this as well), it has been a slow build for tape. I sat down with Octavion last week for my Grindaholic series and he agreed that, “Vigilante” is in the process of deliberate and targeted branding effort. He wants everything to be right – the marketing, the videos, etc. because he believes in the music. I agree, the music is very impressive. My favorite track is, Get it How I Live ft. Artik Phreeze, Chance Fischer, BC Music 1st, produced by Mr. Ivory Snow.
We R VA ft Suburban District
Noah-O’s New Video, “Looking Down”
Charged Up General Noah O took it back to the Bay for his latest video, “Looking Down.” Check out the new visual. The upcoming record is called, “Thug Wilders Revenge.” It’s coming soon and RVA is on notice.
I’m a fan on HaBits. I’ve seen them rock a few times live and really appreciate the element of hip hop they bring to RVA. It’s a return to the emcee. Their feel reminds me of the throwback origins of NYC hip hop. The new record is called, “Soul Connection.” It is dropping very soon and here is a new single from the record.
HaBits – I Wanna Be
When I sat down with So !lla for the first ever Grindaholic interview, he made it clear to me that Broad Street Elite is the focus and 2013 is year. I respect his grind. Check out the music and see what BSE is all about. My favorite track? This one is tough because I’ve been sitting back watching what !lla have been going through and because of seeing some of his journey I’m going to post the track, Runnin Too Long.” I feel l like !lla has turned a corner and this track sounds like victory to me.
So !lla – Runnin Too long
There it is for now. There is so much more but again, I can only do so much at a time. Keep supporting The Cheats Movement and I’m going to keep supporting your work and RVA. #WESEEIT!
The John Mitchell Jr. marker is proudly posted right beside the Richmond Convention Center in Jackson Ward.
Words by Duron Chavis AKA Brother Manifest
African history is so awe inspiring to me. Being an African born in Richmond ,Virginia makes me particularly interested in the story of people of African descent from right here in my hometown. Interestingly enough, the city of Richmond is pretty well renown for some amazing personalities, many of whom few of us have ever heard anything about.
The time period immediately following the civil war, which W.E.B. Dubois called, “the Black Reconstruction,” was an era of black history that I was particularly drawn to. Spanning from 1865 to 1891, historians ascertain that over 2000 African Americans held political offices in the South. One such man by the name of John Mitchell Jr. was from Jackson Ward.
Mitchell was born a slave in Richmond, VA, on July 11, 1863, two years before the end of the Civil War. What you find in Mitchell that is so astounding is that he melded his life around service to uplift the black community. His approach was multidisciplinary and evolved over time. He started out as journalist speaking out against lynching. His journalistic activism kept the conversation in the public eye via the Richmond Planet, a black weekly paper to which he would later be appointed editor. He promoted the works of activists throughout the U.S. such as Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Dubois, and Booker T. Washington, in addition to local leaders and the business community.
Mitchell used his pen and political influence as a weapon. His work to highlight the injustice of lynching was one thing, but Mitchell stepped out to combat injustice on even a broader scale. For example, the case of Simon Walker – a 15 year black boy accused of raping a 12 year old white girl was brought to trial and the young man was found guilty and to be executed. Mitchell was able to keep the story alive in his paper and through advocacy on the boys behalf to the Governor at the time, Fitzhugh Lee (nephew of General Robert E. Lee), was able to eventually get the sentence commuted to 20 years in prison versus him being hanged. This was an amazing feat considering the ever present threat that whites would simply snatch the boy up and lynch him anyway. Mitchell was able to coral the support of state officials to ensure Walker was delivered to prison unharmed.
What’s even more impressive is that Mitchell wasn’t afraid to represent and stand up as a man in defense of his community. When threatened with hanging himself after reporting on a lynching of an African American in Smithfield, VA, Mitchell loaded two pistols, boarded a train to Smithfield, arrived, and then walked from the station to the site of the hanging. In this day and time, where we have so many internet revolutionaries and rappers talking about gangsta this and gangsta that, with fabricated stories of killing their own – I have to say, John Mitchell Jr. was really really gangsta, in a positive way.
The beautiful thing about Mitchell’s act of resistance is that it paints an accurate picture of African Americans as courageous and self-determining, standing in self defense of their families and community – not cowering in corners fearful of mob violence that was on the rise post Reconstruction as whites attempted to reestablish white supremacy and Jim Crow throughout the south. We were not passive at all. We owned businesses, newspapers, participated in local and state government, and stood together as a community against injustice.
Mitchell held down a spot on city council for Jackson Ward, organized a successful black boycott of the segregated electric trolley streetcars, founded the Mechanics Savings Bank in Richmond, and eventually ran for Governor of the state of Virginia in 1921 even though he didn’t win.
Mitchell died in December of 1929 in his office at the Richmond Planet. From a journalist to activist, to a banker and politician he truly dedicated his life for the betterment of African people. Our leaders of today and aspiring leaders of tomorrow can learn a lot from his courage and tenacity.
Duron Chavis (Brother Manifest) is the director of Happily Natural Day and coordinator of the Mcdonough Community Garden. He will be writing about RVA Black History every Friday this month.
Words by Cheats, Photos by Greg Garner (BlueGoo Studios)
WRIR threw one heck of a party last Friday night. The independent radio station packed out the Renaissance Ballroom for their 8th annual benefit, “Party for the Rest of Us.” This is easily becoming one of my favorite annual events because of its extremely diverse, and RVA based, line up of performers which included some of my favorite bands like: Wolf/Goat and Dead Fame. And it introduced me to ”my” surprise of the night, The Upper East Side Big Band (pictured above), who were flat out amazing.
Last year, I was able to cover the benefit for The Cheats Movement Blog and had a great time running around, taking photos, hanging with friends, and meeting bands. This year it was my honor to curate a Cheats Movement Presents Showcase for the Adams Room. I was asked by my main man Shannon Cleary (WRIR, Commonwealth of Notions) to present some of my favorite artist from RVA’s hip hop community and it was my honor to do so. Right away, I made three calls, Ohbliv, Artik Phreeze, and Black Liquid. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to pull it off but I knew I wanted to work with these hardworking artist and their teams. Ultimately, the showcase turned out even better than I could have imagined because we were able to expand the performers to include team YFD Clothing (Doe, Chris Haskins, Destiny Da Chef, and Flight Crew), and The New Juice Crew.
There is not much I can say about my brother Ohbliv. RVA’s Mad Genius did it again. He had the crowd stunned with his beats and was the perfect lead off to a unreal hour of hip hop.
RVA’s Mad Genius Ohbiv
If you are not familar with YFD Clothing, The Williams brothers, along with emcee Artik Phreeze, are really making an impact in both RVA fashion and music. Their music roster includes, Phreeze, who is really becoming a star in the RVA hip hop scene, Doe & Chris Haskins, who often perform together but both can carry a strong set indivdually, newcomers Flight Crew, Ms. Proper (who was under the weather last Friday but well worth seeing live), and Destiny Da Chef, who did her thang and killed her set on short notice.
Doe rockin “YFD” clothing
Artik Phreeze, Chris Haskins, Destiny Da Chef holding it down for YFD.
Once the crowd was turned up by YFD, then came the show-stoppers known as The New Juice Crew. Led by the one and only Black Liquid, The New Juice Crew took the stage and, as they say, “melted faces.” My good friend from the RCC Matt Newman said it best, “There is no middle ground with The New Juice Crew. No one ever leaves their show and says, ‘They really didn’t bring it tonight.” They bring it every night and I’m glad the WRIR crowd got to see if first hand. Special S/O to my man Bandolero for holding down the dj set all night, as well as performing with TNJC. My brother Corey Starks has a track, “Wurk Wit It” that stands out on the mixtape, “Know The Ledge” but hearing that track live proves it’s clearly a fan favorite. Also the song, “Trackaholic” really showcases all that is TNJC. It was great to see the team on that track.
Bandolero of TNJC, held it down by djing the set and performing.
After the Cheats Movement Showcase was complete, I was able to relax a bit and enjoy one of my favorite bands Dead Fame. I first saw Dead Fame perform live at the RVA Playlist Birthday Bash, last year. They are fantastic. And their live show comes with great music, balloons, and a crazy light show. I just love it.
I will close by mentioning the amazing performances from Wolf/Goat and “my’ surprise of the night The Upper East Side Big Band. Wolf/Goat is just cool to see play. Who doesn’t like a band with a banjo and violin? They have a great sound and perform well live. Their record, “In Watermelon Sugar,” was on of the best RVA records of last year. I truly believe they can go a long way.
Do yourself a favor - check out Wolf/Goat.
WRIR always seem to hit me with pleasant surprise every year. And this year’s surprise was major, “The Upper East Side Big Band.” The are amazing and just left me wondering, “Why haven’t I seen this before?” It’s huge, it’s modern, it’s jazz, it’s everything amazing. I can’t wait to see them again. I loved it.
I could not have asked for a better night to be a part of in RVA. The WRIR Party is truly one of the best Richmond events of the year. Thanks to Shannon and Lindsey for inviting me to be a part of the evening. #WESEEIT
It has become very clear that the goal of The Cheats Movement Blog in 2013 is to do something bigger for the RVA community. What do I mean by, “bigger?” I mean the blog, myself, the entire Cheats Movement Family will deliberately take on the task of creating and presenting the type of Richmond community that we want see spread throughout this city. I think that has always been the underling goal of the blog, to present RVA as the positive, diverse, creative community that I see daily but is not reported in the RVA media. With the growth of the blog it has become clear, or should I say even more real, that this blog (with the help of a lot of amazing friends and supporters) can be a driving force to bring Richmond’s community together. If you were not there last month at Gallery 5 when Photosythesizers, JPS, and Glows in the Dark performed on the same stage, you missed the very best of what I’m talking about. The most diverse audenice in the city coming together to enjoy Cheats Movement Family, The Richmond Comedy Coalition and these bands, that may not have been billed together if it wasn’t for a platform like the one we created together.
It happened again last night at WRIR’s Party for the Rest of Us. Seeing such a diverse crowd, in a small room, grooving to the music of Ohbliv, and then turning it up with YFD and The New Juice Crew gives me a feeling that I can’t explain but I know I want to duplicate over and over again. Immediately following the showcase last night, as well as the Richmond Famous show at Gallery 5, and even follow the RVA HOT SAUCE show nearly 2 years ago, strangers come up to me wondering when are we going to do “that” again. How can we get that vibe again. I feel the same way.
HEAR IS THE POINT – I can’t do it – WE can’t do it without everyone playing their part. Step 1 – if you are not following the Cheats Movement Facebook Page – Click HERE and follow, share it with your friends. We need to spread what is happening in the city. Step 2 – If you see that The Cheats Movement Blog is hosting/supporting a event or cause – rest assured that it will be one that is worth attending or supporting. I am very clear that this blog is about positivity, creativity, diversity, and anything that lift up RVA. Feel comfortable knowing that while you may not feel every blog post, it all serves a goal. Step 3 – if you see something that this blog “should” be supporting, send me an email (CheatsMWC@gmail.com) and let me know. If it is positive and good for the RVA community, you have a friend in me.
I strongly believe that celebrating Richmond’s creative diversity will go a long way in healing some of the lasting bitterness of the past. It’s not the only answer but I can’t solve every problem with a blog post or event. I can take action to create a better city. We can together. I need you to be a part – will you help?
Tonight is the night! WRIR Party for the Rest of Us 8 at The Renaissance, 107 West Broad Street # 300, Richmond, Virginia. Doors open at 7 PM. Get there early – The Cheats Movement Blog is bringing some of the best RVA Hip Hop – we will be in one of the separate ballrooms – not the main state. Starting with the one and only Mad Genius Ohbliv at 9:15 PM. We then have the entire YFD Clothing camp featuring: Artik Phreeze, Ms. Proper, Chris Haskins and Doe, and Flight Crew, then closing out the hour is The New Juice Crew: Black Liq, BC Music 1st, Corey Starks, RT, Emphasys, Lord Slugg, and truly the man of the hour Bandolero, who will be holding down the djing all night. The rest of the night is going to be amazing as well. I’m a fan of both Wolf//Goat and Dead Fame. And Cheats Movement Family the Richmond Comedy Coalition will be holding it down in the same separate ballroom as us. This should be a great night. $10 suggested donation at the door. Cheats Movement Stickers will be on deck and free!