The year 2021 in photos | Richmond Free Press

2021 has been a tussle between the life changes precipitated by the 2020 COVID-19 related shutdowns and efforts to return to a pre-COVID lifestyle.

Richmond residents have started 2021 with high hopes for a return to normalcy, with newly introduced vaccines becoming more widely available and eagerly taken up, first by the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, and later on. ‘by the end of the year, the approval of vaccines for children 5 years and older.

As long lines formed with people ready to roll up their sleeves for the vaccine, hope turned to hesitation in some quarters, and fights continued over vaccine mandates, booster shots. and mask as conditions of employment and return to in-person university learning and K-12 classrooms.

Economic hardship, social disruption and uncertainty caused by the pandemic have helped fuel an increase in gun violence and deaths in Richmond and across the country, especially in communities already beset by poverty. Wakes and funerals were held in Richmond and Henrico for the victims claimed by the violence. Some Dark Ceremonies took place virtually as a result of the more highly transmissible delta and omicron variants of the virus late in the year.

Still, throughout 2021, people have sought to participate in “normal” school and sports activities and birthday, graduation and holiday celebrations with certain pandemic-related adjustments built in.

A hotly contested election for Virginia governor drove voters to the polls statewide in near-record numbers during the fall and drew campaign visits to Richmond from former President Obama and other senior figures. national.

And the racial reckoning following the killing of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020 continued into 2021. The six-story statue and pedestal honoring Confederate General Robert E. Lee, a symbol of white supremacy since its erection in 1890, was removed from Monument Avenue in Richmond.

Telling the full story, officials also unveiled and dedicated a new Emancipation and Freedom Monument on Brown Island on the James River downtown.

Richmond Free Press photographers Sandra Sellars and Regina H. Boone and freelance photographers Clement Britt and Randy Singleton captured the highs and lows of 2021 through their work. Here are some important points.

Jada Foreman, an Atlee High School junior and athletics star, poses Feb. 26 with the many pairs of athletic shoes she carries around to be ready for any situation.  The 17-year-old won five individual events in the Region 5B track and field competition, helping Hanover County School to the title.

More than 200 white flags representing the number of Richmondians who died at that time from COVID-19 were placed outside New Kingdom Christian Ministries on Dill Avenue in Highland Park in early March.  The church held a candlelight vigil on March 6 outside the church in memory of departed loved ones.  Several people spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and those of their loved ones.  Others watched the ceremony virtually.

Retired nurse Juliette Stephens Hamilton, left, stands on her porch in Washington Park as well-wishers offer drive-by greetings to celebrate her 103rd birthday on March 25.  Ms. Hamilton greeted guests and drivers alongside Brenda Dabney Nichols, president of the Washington Park Civic Association, who helped organize the

Andre Tolleris holds up a banner at drivers honking past the statue of Lee on Monument Avenue after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of the April 20 murder of George Floyd.  Lee's statue on Richmond's Monument Avenue had become a rallying point for large protests against police brutality and racial injustice following Mr Floyd's death in May 2020.

Pallbearers accompany the coffin shared by Sharnez Hill, 30, and her 3-month-old daughter, Neziah Hill, after their May 8 funeral at the United Nations Church on the South Side, where hundreds of mourners paid a last tribute.  The mother and daughter were shot and killed on April 27, and three others, including girls aged 11 and 15, were injured outside Belt Atlantic apartments on the South Side by young men shooting at each other across the courtyard of the apartment complex.

Cruz Sherman, founder of Men in Action, leads a prayer outside the apartment complex as those gathered raise three fingers in honor of the child who was killed.  The rally against violence took place on May Day.

Members of the Elegba Folklore Society for libations honoring ancestors during a performance June 18 at Dogwood Dell in Byrd Park as part of the town's 64th annual Arts Festival.  It was one of many events in the region marking the first year of June 19 as a national holiday.

Richmond Public High School majors celebrated in a June 12 group photo in Byrd Park.  They are, from left to right, Te'Vonya Jeter of Huguenot;  Aissatou Barry from the community of Richmond;  Armstrong's Airheiz Cabrera;  Harold Aquino-Guzman by George Wythe;  Terri Lee of the Franklin Military Academy;  Thomas Jefferson's Mary Jane Perkins-Lynch;  and Abena Williams of Open High.  Not depicted in John Marshall's A'Nya Davis.

New York's Talisha Braxton, left, chats with her boyfriend, Burney Hatchett III, from inside their tents set up outside the vacant Richmond Coliseum on July 11.  Homeless people who lived outside the Colosseum were moved by Richmond police and other officials before workers began erecting a fence around the downtown site in preparation for its demolition.

More than 9,000 people watch a colorful fireworks display at the Diamond on July 3 following the Richmond Flying Squirrels' home game on July 4 weekend against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies of New York.

Members of the Post 9808 Foreign Wars Mechanicsville Veterans conduct a three-volley salute during a July 28 sunset memorial ceremony held at the Sons and Daughters of Ham Cemetery near Bandy Field in Henrico County .  The ceremony, held on National Buffalo Soldiers Day, honors Moses Bradford Jr., a Buffalo Soldier who served with the 25th Infantry Regiment during the Spanish American War.  He is buried in the cemetery.

Two 12-foot bronze statues comprising the Emancipation and Freedom Monument are unveiled and dedicated in a September 22 ceremony in front of several hundred people on Brown's Island downtown.

An emotional state Senator Jennifer L. McClellan, head of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission that spearheaded the creation of the monument, is comforted by Gov. Ralph S. Northam as Delegate Betsy B. Carr, left , applauded the unveiling.  Many in the crowd also shed tears during the ceremony.

The huge statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is carefully lowered to the ground by workmen, where it was cut in half to be transported by truck to the state warehouse.  Governor Ralph S. Northam had ordered the state-owned statue taken down in July 2020, but legal challenges delayed its removal until September 8, 2021.

Former President Obama unleashes a crowd of nearly 3,000 on October 23 at a campaign rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.  The former president was among a slew of national figures who traveled to the state to boost voter turnout for the former governor.  Mr. McAuliffe lost the Nov. 2 election to political neophyte and Republican Glenn A. Youngkin.

Keisha Spearman, 45, uses her cellphone camera to document her daughter, London, 5, receiving her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Fairfield Middle School in Henrico County on November 13.  The school districts of Henrico and Richmond have partnered with area health districts to host vaccination clinics for youngsters ages 5 to 11 after federal authorities gave the go-ahead for the vaccine to be administered to children.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, center, listens to elected officials in Virginia detail how Jackson Ward was dissected by the construction of Interstate 95. With him on the Richmond borough walking tour Dec. 3, from left at right are U.S. Representative A. Donald McEachin, U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger, Governor Ralph S. Northam, Mayor Levar M. Stoney and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine.

Award-winning musician and Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams is overwhelmed with emotion on December 11 as he is named an honorary member of the Norfolk State University Spartan Legion Marching Band and presented with a band uniform framed by the NSU President Javaune Adams-Gaston.  Mr. Williams delivered the commencement address to the university's fall graduates.  He also received an honorary doctorate during the ceremony at NSU's Joseph G. Echols Hall.

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