Editor: Several weeks ago, we participated in an Arlington County focus group on cultural heritage preservation.
The invitation noted an interest in “the important stories [that have] given us a meaningful purpose.” It boasted that “cultural heritage defines the county.” Yet, a draft Public Art Master Plan, which will come before the county board this week, does more to erase the historically Black community of Green Valley than any simple story can fix.
The Public Art Master Plan, with a few buried pages, nullifies Green Valley by rewriting its historical narrative and changing its borders.
Arlington’s draft plan runs a fictitious “Four Mile Run Valley” smack through Green Valley and then says “Green Valley is a historically African-American neighborhood to the north of Four Mile Run Valley.” It takes a public art piece slated for a renovated park and says it is located in Four Mile Run and Shirlington. In fact, the Wheelhouse public art project will be located in Jennie Dean Park, which has been in Green Valley for generations.
If the county can cover-up the rich and important history of one community with fallacies and inaccuracies, it does not bode well for the future of all of Arlington. The cultural heritage that the county purports to treasure in one breath is now rendered meaningless. The Public Art Master Plan is an affront to Arlington. It must not pass.
Robin Stombler, Arlington
Wilma H. Jones Killgo, Arlington
Scott Taylor, President, Black Heritage Museum of Arlington