Rick Turner: A Secret Pact Bars Blacks from Downtown

Remember Rick Turner? The former UVA Dean of African-American Affairs retired in 2006 after lying to federal investigators in a drug case. (The details of that sordid affair never became public.) That humiliation appeared to be the end of his public life, one that had become increasingly noisy in the prior couple of years. In 2005 alone he defended the stunningly incompetent school superintendent Scottie Griffin as a victim of race hatred, declared that teachers and the school bard are racist, that firing Griffin would be a “lynching”, that black people have a “slave-like mentality”, and that UVA students were guilty of “racial terrorism”. Again, that’s just in 2005.

Well, Turner’s emerged in public to again light a fire and throw some gasoline it, this time informing City Council that downtown has way too many white people, Graham Moomaw wrote in the Progress last week, and accusing downtown business owners of having a secret pact to refuse to hire African-Americans. Turner, the head of the Albemarle-Charlottesville branch of the NAACP, provided no evidence to support his claims. Councilors Holly Edwards, David Brown, and Dave Norris thanked Turner for his comments. (Turner once called for then-mayor Brown to resign for meeting with school principals.) His remarks can be watched, starting at the 43:14 mark. Downtown business owners aren’t thrilled with the accusations. Chamber president Tim Hulbert complained that “[i]It’s just not helpful…when anyone calls out a whole group of people and paints them with a brush that’s inaccurate.” Downtown Business Association co-chair Bob Stroh was reduced to stating the obvious, that “the part about the secret code and that kind of stuff is…not true.”

18 thoughts on “Rick Turner: A Secret Pact Bars Blacks from Downtown”

  1. i attended the council meeting of september 5.

    rick turner used his public comment time to
    speak to eugene williams letter to the daily

    what i believe the podcast will show is that
    turner carefully said “perhaps” there is a secret
    pact. that turner chose to ruminate a bit and
    perhaps sermonize is fine. mr williams is well known
    as local leader in the civil rights struggle in
    our town; had an office for his real estate business
    on the downtown mall for years.i would think his
    observations of the daily downtown scene count.

    perhaps mr hulbert and mr stroh should take the
    opportunity to contact mr. williams and mr. turner
    as well as the city dialogue on race for a full
    discussion of the matter.

  2. what i believe the podcast will show is that
    turner carefully said “perhaps” there is a secret

    That’s a nonsense excuse. Perhaps Rick Turner eats babies.

    Oh, did I say he eats babies? No, no, I did no such thing. I said that perhaps he eats babies. Maybe he doesn’t!

    mr williams is well known as local leader in the civil rights struggle in our town; had an office for his real estate business on the downtown mall for years.i would think his observations of the daily downtown scene count.

    That’s what I find so baffling about this. I am an admirer of his. I’m left wondering if perhaps he’s not as mobile as he once was, and has only been downtown rarely in recent years? I have no idea. But his observations do not match reality, and there’s no getting around that.

    The School Bard is also my favorite. Please don’t change it, Waldo.

    “School Bard” it is. :)

  3. I don’t believe there’s a secret pact to keep black people off the Downtown Mall. I regularly see black people on the Downtown Mall. The gist of my response to Dr. Turner, which I’ve said many times publicly, is that we have a declining black middle class in Charlottesville and there are too few African-Americans in professional positions (doctors, lawyers, business owners, bankers, government officials, teachers, principals, police officers, professors, etc.) throughout our community, not just downtown. Growing, recruiting and retaining more professionals of color in Charlottesville will help our community in a myriad of ways. Recent conversations I’ve had with University officials, Chamber of Commerce, City/County leaders, NAACP and others indicate that there is wide agreement on this point.

  4. @ DaveNorris

    Why perhaps wouldn’t what you’ve said here be close to a backdoor admission?

    Surely you’re not now saying UNEXPECTED GENTRIFICATION is overtaking UNDESIRED SPRAWL as a more urgent pressing matter?

    Could Rip Van Winkle really be awakening?

  5. The gentrification we’re seeing was hardly unexpected. And it goes hand-in-hand with undesired sprawl. Less affordable housing in-town means more working-class families (of all races) moving 10, 20, 30 miles away to find homes they can afford. If we want less sprawl and if we want to keep our city livable and diverse we need to maintain an adequate supply of decent affordable housing. Affordable not just in price but also in ongoing cost (water rates, electric rates, property taxes, etc.).

  6. Here is the “secret” code of the downtown business owners: We hire who we feel will help our business the most. And far to often for me, it is not he appearance of the skin that hurts so many who apply, but the appearance of their dress and manner.

    Race dialogue with a race baiter? Please.

  7. @Am Your Neighbor Too

    I think Dave Norris’s statement is more of a backdoor admission the the current City Manager was hired for misguided social engineering reasons rather than for his qualifications for the jobs.

  8. It sounds to me as though there is–PERHAPS–a secret pact to replace the School Board with a School Bard. Must one run for the job and be elected, or simply elocute?

  9. Dear Fellow Secret Pact Members-

    In re: the conspiracy to keep black people off the mall? It isn’t working. Counted over 80 walking up the mall at Fridays After Five. So instead, lets agree secretly to keep Latvians off the mall. True we may have equally little success, but nobody will know we’re failing. So we can have a big party and congratulate ourselves on our secret conspiracy. PS don’t tell anybody.

  10. I still want my School Bard.

    How is it that this completely accidental idea has so caught my imagination?

    I keep flashing on the new brain changes going on in the digital generation and often feel as helpless, afraid, and proud as the illiterate, oral-tradition, bard-taught parents of the then differently-brained literate children they were raising.

    I’m not sure that’s a complete sentence. I’m not sure that’s a complete idea.

    I want my School Bard.

  11. Barbara —

    I’m sure it’s both a complete thought and a complete sentence. Better, though, it’s a stunningly deft rock-skip across umpteen acres of time’s far from smooth surface.

    But I rise on a point of local history: In Mrs. Barksdale’s classes at McGuffey in the ’50s, we were all school bards. We were read poems. We memorized poems. And we wrote poems, usually as one more way — along with making music and murals and models and such — of getting to know what we were studying through all five of our fourth and fifth grade senses.

    In those days, though, a poem wasn’t a poem because a self-proclaimed poet said it was, it was a poem because a hearer knew it was. Which is to say, be careful what you wish for.

  12. Thank you, Antoinette. This is part of old, unexplored territory for me. I’ve been thinking for decades that there’s a kernal of a story about a society which chooses certain children to be ‘illiterate’ so that their society can be fuller-informed by differently-brained people. Bards, in fact. Auditory, not visual; pictographic, not phonetic. The underlying principle (phonetics) and the observational skin (illiteracy/pictographics). Both the European ‘dark ages’ and the ages of pictographic-literate Asians are astonishingly rich in pragmatic improvements. We leap forward with a Gallileo, a Newton, or an Einstein; we then need to pragmatically creep forward with countless unnamed ‘illiterate’ inventors. Too much homogeneity robs us of needed hybrid vigor.

    I want my School Bard.

  13. Kudos to Antoinette and Barbara!
    I also vote for a School Bard–seriously
    it could be an unofficial, unpaid position,
    say for a year at a time and the poet would
    be called something such as “Poet Laureate,”
    or “School Bard” and could give free readings
    in the City Schools during their term.
    There are a lot of poets in our area and many
    of them might like to have this honor (and
    resume enhancer) for a year of so!
    The person could be appointed by the “school
    board” Good idea you two!

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