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Monday, August 8, 2022

People across the country will be talking about Charlottesville this week as we approach the Friday anniversary of Unite the Right. But for those who live here, this day is deeply personal. One of our neighbors was killed that day as the rally moved through the Downtown Mall. Others were critically injured. And countless more carry very real emotional scars.

A brick wall is pictured covered in chalk messages. In front of the wall, the sidewalk is lined with purple flowers. A purple sign in the middle reads “Heather,” with a heart on top.
In August 2020, chalk messages, signs and flowers adorned a wall on 4th Street where Heather Heyer was killed and many others were injured on Aug. 12, 2017. Credit: Charlotte Rene Woods\Charlottesville Tomorrow

In honor of our community, this week Charlottesville Tomorrow will be running a series of reports and stories about the 2017 “summer of hate” five years later. We will publish stories every day this week, leading up to the Friday anniversary of the Aug. 12, 2017 Unite the Right rally. Our coverage will not feature violence. Rather, it will explore the wounds that summer left, the ways it pushed us to change, and the changes we still need to make. 

Our stories will include a look at how the deadly rally changed race relations within the city. We’ll share the first-person perspective of a local pastor who helped run communications between faith leaders and counterprotesters  — and found new ways to fight for civil rights in the process. One report explores the emergence of a Police Civilian Oversight Board. Another brings us up to date on the still contested fate of Charlottesville’s statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. We will conclude by sharing never before seen images from that day, taken by local photographer Ézé Amos. Amos will display these and other images on the Downtown Mall on Thursday and Friday.

Two men and a woman are pictured side by side in a black and white collage.
From left to right, Melvin Grady, Myra Anderson and William Scott are pictured. They are among the Charlottesville Black residents who spoke openly about how Unite the Right changed the city — and how it didn’t. Credit: Tamica Jean-Charles/Charlottesville Tomorrow

We begin our coverage this week with messages from Charlottesville’s Black community. Reporter Tamica Jean-Charles spent the last month talking with residents about how the white supremacist rally affected their lives, and altered the course of their city. This is what they said.

More about the enduring impact of Aug. 12 >

For those of you who need to step away from the news this week, we understand. And we stand with you. If you are following the anniversary coverage, and want to offer feedback or ideas, we’d love to hear from you.

Take care of yourselves and your neighbors this week,

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org.