-30- | Richmond Free Press

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Every story has an end.

And I decided to wrap up my story at the Richmond Free Press. I’m stepping down as editor after seven and a half years. This edition of the journal is my last.

The pandemic has highlighted a lot of things and I think it’s time to close this chapter of my professional career.

It was an incredible experience. Since September 2014, when I joined Free Press, the city, state and nation have undergone many changes – some positive and encouraging and others clearly highlighting the critical and urgent work that remains to be done.

Meanwhile, Richmond has had five different police chiefs, three different principals, two different mayors, and significant turnovers on the school board and city council.

The crushing injustice we witnessed with the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police has sparked demands for an end to police brutality and a commitment to social justice and equality in Richmond And in the world. His death changed the outlook for thousands of people and literally changed the landscape of our city. Massive daily protests swept our city and led to the removal of towering racist reminders of hate and white supremacy from Monument Avenue and elsewhere.

As these Confederate statues now belong to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia in Jackson Ward, we must not let the burden of preserving these symbols of hate divert resources from the pressing need to educate our city on its long, deep and rich black heritage. And we must not back out of the conversation about the ultimate use of statues or stop demanding a place at the table where these kinds of decisions will be made.

Our city has also been altered by the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced people indoors and businesses and schools to close. More than 20,200 Virginians – including more than 500 living in Richmond alone – have lost their lives to the virus and its nasty complications, while thousands more have been hospitalized and countless numbers are still living with the effects persisters of the coronavirus.

But many Richmond residents have discovered positive sides during the quiet, including clearer perspectives on the importance of family and self-care and a better understanding of how we are all connected and how the actions of the can have a big impact on all of us.

We have witnessed the dedication of frontline workers, from doctors, nurses, therapists and other healthcare professionals to grocery clerks and transit workers. We have seen innovation from families and teachers to bring stability and a sense of normalcy to children and young adults as they continue to learn and grow. This is a testament to the resilience of our community.

For the past seven and a half years, our city and state has been rocked by scandals surrounding elected officials, stemming from offensive blackface appearances, sex with minors, and accusations of non-consensual sex with women. We have been plagued by shootings and murders that have horrified the community and devastated families.

But we have seen people stick together during these struggles and challenges. Nearly 400 people have been named “personality” of the week by Free Press over the past seven and a half years. These are people who have given freely of their time and talents for the benefit of the community at large.

We also celebrated our very own National Teacher of the Year – Rodney Robinson of Richmond – applauded seven Richmond Teachers of the Year and added Juneteenth to the national and holiday calendar. While Juneteenth has its roots in Texas, it’s a tangible reminder that until we’re all free, none of us will be free.

Recent state and national elections and appointments have brought to power those who are determined to turn the clock back. We face real assaults on women’s health rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, equal rights and truth. It is a call to all of us that we must continue to fight “until justice flow like waters and justice like a mighty river”, as urged by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The struggle is not over and we, as a city and people, continue to face challenges to our well-being and quality of life. No matter what, we at the Free Press know that our readers rely on us to keep them informed, to provide a platform for their voices to be heard on issues affecting our city and state, and to be their advocates. on important issues.

The Free Press has always been, and always will be, the mirror exposing Richmond’s bigotry to the rest of the world and crusading for the progress our community needs.

This will not change.

I am both humbled and honored to have been part of the legacy and important mission of the Free Press launched 30 years ago by our visionary founder, editor and publisher, the late Raymond H. Boone Sr. newspaper remains in good hands with its widow, our current editor, Jean Patterson Boone, and a dedicated staff who bring hard work and true commitment to the Free Press mission every week.

Our success is measured, in part, by the awards we earn each year from our peers at the Virginia Press Association and the National Newspaper Publishers Association. And over the past seven and a half years, we’ve been honored with a combined total of 117 awards, including 15 this year from the VPA. It’s pretty awesome!

But what’s even more impressive is how readers will self-purchase a dozen or more copies of the Free Press each week from a box near them – or sometimes they’ll drive to the center -town to get newspapers from our box across the street. of the building – and give them to family, friends, church members, housebound people and others. This shows, more than any award, how valuable our work is to the community and helps explain why we care so much about our readers. It is also one of the lessons of my time here that I will cherish the most.

For each of you, the story continues, and I will read.

Continuing the fight for justice,

Bonnie V. Winston

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