Two summers ago, white supremacists and various militia groups rallied in Charlottesville and clashed with counter-protesters at the climax of what has been referred to as the “Summer of Hate.”  Last year, city and state officials once again faced backlash after downtown was barricaded even after it was apparent that there was no imminent threat. This year, some residents enjoyed a peaceful weekend on and around the Downtown Mall, while others attended Unity Days events that replaced 2017’s display of racism.

Aug. 11 and 12, 2017, was the weekend of the Unite the Right rally, which ostensibly was in support of the city’s Confederate monuments and lead to the deaths of counter-protester Heather Heyer and two Virginia State Police pilots and the injury of many others.  Since then, some of the issues that came to a head that weekend are unresolved. The City Council’s vote to remove the statues and civil and some criminal cases in deadly weekend still are in court. The community continues to grieve. Activists still are calling for Charlottesville to reckon with its past.

As a part of this push for reconciliation, Unity Days has a stated goal to “educate, inspire and honor people in our community to create movement towards healing and unity on a path for economic and racial justice.”

Below is an image gallery of the weekend.

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    Leading up to the second anniversary of her death, people paid visits to Heather Heyer Way to bring fresh flowers. Heyer was killed near the corner of Fourth Street Southeast and East Water Street in the Aug. 12, 2017, car attack.

    Credit: Charlotte Rene Woods/Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Members of the Charlottesville Ballet perform an original piece on Aug. 9, 2019, on the Downtown Mall.

    Credit: Dan Heineke/Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    University of Virginia professor Jalane Schmidt and Jefferson School African American Heritage Center Executive Director Andrea Douglas lead an Aug. 9, 2019, walking tour with historical contextualization of various monuments throughout Court Square and at Market Street Park in downtown Charlottesville.

    Credit: Charlotte Rene Woods/Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Hundreds gather on Aug. 10, 2019, for Charlottesville Resonates, a Unity Days event featuring trombonists from around the state that was hosted by First United Methodist Church.

    Credit: Charlotte Rene Woods/Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Lachen Parks, a social media manager and marketing coordinator for the city of Charlottesville, holds an information table on Aug. 11, 2019, during various Unity Days events. "I figure if people come to one, they'll go to others," she said

    Credit: Charlotte Rene Woods/Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Charlottesville police and Virginia State Police officers maintain a presence at the Charlottesville Resonates Unity Day Event on Aug. 10, 2019.

    Credit: Charlotte Rene Woods \ Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    From left: Tatiana Logan, instructional designer at Teachstone Training, asked Amanda Williford, faculty at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning at University of Virginia and Melissa Carter, director of the Monticello Area Community Action Agency Head Start, questions while moderating an event on early education as part of a Unity Days event at Vinegar Hill Theater on Aug. 10, 2019.

    Credit: Billy Jean Louis/Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Mary Coleman, interim executive director of City of Promise, was among four panelists at a Unity Days event on early education at Vinegar Hill Theater on Aug. 10, 2019.

    Credit: Billy Jean Louis/Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Volunteer docent Mary Lee Epps explains the machinery on display at the historic River View Farm barn off Earlysville Road in Albemarle County. Hugh Carr, who was born into slavery, founded the farm as a young man after emancipation and owned 126 acres by 1890.

    Credit: Emily Hays/Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Tours of the historic Carr-Greer barn, which Conly Greer used to model best practices for other farms, are part of the Unity Days schedule and take place on Saturdays and Sundays from 2-4 p.m. through October.

    Credit: Emily Hays/Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    The Charlottesville City Market took place on Aug. 10, 2019, during the second anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in a parking lot on Water Street like any other summer weekend. Vendor Alexandra Rodriguez, of Lesley's Garden, said that the number of people visiting the market was at normal levels.

    Credit: Emily Hays/Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Anna Isserow, of Carousel Kitchen, said that the Charlottesville City Market was busier on Saturday than the previous weeks, which had some of the highest temperatures of the summer. "People are here for the community, not just to do their shopping and run back into the air conditioning," she said.

    Credit: Emily Hays/Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Lesly Gourdet, a former Western Albemarle High School teacher and the owner of the healthy juice company LG's Elixir, said that he was thinking about the 2017 white supremacist rallies when he drove to the Charlottesville City Market on the morning of Aug. 10, 2019. That moment and the desire to promote community healing is part of what inspired him to start his business, he said.

    Credit: Emily Hays/Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    Singers, volunteers and audience members celebrated the second annual C'Ville Sing Out on Aug. 10, 2019, at the Sprint Pavilion. The choir — made up of more than 100 singers and instrumentalists — joined to sing gospel music and other uplifting songs.

    Credit: Ali Sullivan /Charlottesville Tomorrow

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    A candelight vigil wound around downtown Charlottesville on the evening of Sunday, Aug. 11 to promote community healing in the places where violence occurred during the Unite the Right rally in 2017. The vigil ended next to the Violet Crown theater at the photography installation that honors local activists. The event was organized by Elizabeth Shillue of Beloved Community Cville with help from Don Gathers, Jalane Schmidt and Walt Heinecke.

    Credit: Courtesy of Kristen Finn

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    Activists placed banners on the Water Street Parking Garage and four other locations around Charlottesville, Albemarle and the University of Virginia on the morning of Monday, Aug. 12 to highlight the connections between the 2017 Unite the Right rally and other forms of white supremacy. Activists included zoning that promotes residential segregation and stop-and-frisk policing as two of many forms of historic and ongoing racism in a press release about the event.

    Credit: Submitted photo