18 March 2008

How Not to Win Friends & Influence People

What is wrong with Richmond Mayor Douglas Wilder? Though Wilder and I are miles apart politically, I actually used to have some respect for him. I thought he was gutsy and even showed some conservative tendencies during his term as Virginia’s governor. But that’s all changed. He appears to have become extremely arrogant (politicians tend to share that common trait) in his golden years. Wilder is 77. Consider his recent comments regarding the United States National Slavery Museum. Wilder is both the founder of the museum and currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors. It is a worthy project. According to an Associated Press piece by Dionne Walker, which appeared in my local paper yesterday, “the museum’s future has become clouded by shifting opening dates, stalled fundraising and less-than-forthcoming organizers.” When asked to clarify the museum’s future, Wilder said he was “finished explaining anything. We comply with every reporting schedule we have to comply with. If you wanna help raise some money, then help. Other than that, quit worrying us.” That kind of attitude will sure win you some support, huh?

But that’s not all. As I mentioned in a previous post, Wilder continues to stonewall (pun intended) the maintenance of graves at Richmond’s Oakwood Cemetery—but only the maintenance of the Confederate Veterans buried there. One of those veterans is my great-great grandfather who lies in a shared grave with only a number marking his final resting place. Mayor Wilder won’t allow me to put a Veterans Administration approved and Virginia Department of Historical Resources approved marker at his grave, though I’ve emailed that request twice to his office. He has yet to even acknowledge my request.

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