Waynesboro Heritage Foundation's Veterans Exhibit Sparks Community Outrage Over Representation
Written by: Sam Orlando
WAYNESBORO, VIRGINIA – A recent Facebook post by the Waynesboro Heritage Foundation, promoting a new mini exhibit honoring the city's veterans, has ignited a firestorm of criticism from the local community. The controversy centers on the use of a segregated image of white veterans to represent an exhibit that reportedly includes African American veterans. This shocking display comes on the heels of a concerted effort by African Americans to provide photos of minority veterans make the foundation's decision that much more perplexing.
The Foundation's post, featuring an old photo of only segregated white veterans, was intended to encourage visitors to explore the exhibit. However, it has drawn sharp criticism for failing to represent the diversity of Waynesboro's veteran community. Chanda E McGuffin, of Waynesboro, questioned the absence of pictures of African American veterans in a comment on the post, despite efforts in recent years to collect such images for the museum.
Dulcey Fuqua, defending the Foundation, stated, "The photo everyone is making a judgment on is one photo from the entire exhibit... and yes, African Americans were prior selected to be part of this exhibit." However, this explanation did not appease some community members who felt the choice of image was exclusionary.
Jennifer Evans highlighted the need for greater sensitivity, especially in today's climate of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B). "In the day we live of DEI&B, appearance does give way to assumptions," she commented.
Andrea Jackson, an African American veteran with a history degree and minor in Black studies from Waynesboro, expressed disappointment in the selection of the picture. "It would have been best to share several pictures, including some of Black veterans and other veterans of color," she stated.
The incident has sparked a broader conversation about representation and the acknowledgment of racial histories in Waynesboro. Natasha Dorcus, whose family contributed to the collection of African American veteran photos, pointed out the need for an inclusive Veteran's Day exhibit.
Yakeen Dewan Khaliq-Bellamy called the incident "blatant racism," criticizing the Foundation for not promoting the exhibit with a more inclusive image.
In response to the backlash, some community members like Misti Wright Furr and Robin Hopkins urged people to visit the exhibit before passing judgment.
This controversy raises important questions about historical representation and inclusivity in public institutions. The Waynesboro Heritage Foundation's decision to use a segregated image for promotion, despite having more diverse resources, has led to calls for a more nuanced and inclusive approach to community history.
For more updates on this developing story, stay tuned to Breaking Through News.