‘Real Richmond History’: RPS to offer new course to students this fall

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new course for Richmond Public Schools has been created by community leaders for students to learn about the history of the city that may not often get told — “Real Richmond History.”

The course will slip right into the curriculum for Richmond high school students. It brings with it the opportunity to learn about the history of the city we live in — from life in Jackson Ward to the black-owned business that helped build the city we know today.

“There’s a whole lot about Richmond that kids weren’t really learning about,” said RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras, who believes the streets of Richmond have vast amounts of history that students could benefit from learning.

“Let’s take Jackson Ward. That was really the center of Black life in Richmond for many years — where Maggie Walker had her bank. Really learning, what really was Jackson Ward? What was it like to live there? And the story of building I-95 and I-64 right through it and how that was a very intentional decision aimed to disrupt that neighborhood,” Kamras said.

The creation of the course was a collective effort between community leaders, museums, clergy, and many others who wanted students to see the good and the bad that’s happened in the City of Richmond throughout it’s history.

“Those are the kinds of stories that both have beauty in them, and also ugliness in them that we want our kids to understand and really have an appreciation for,” Kamras said.

Kamras says he initially planned on making the course an elective but now plans on making this course a requirement for students.

“We are also thinking about making this a required class for all RPS staff,” Kamras added. “It’s important that everyone that works in RPS also understands all the different facets of history here in Richmond.”

And with Confederate monuments being removed throughout the city, Kamras said now is the best time for children to learn and ask questions.

“It’s precisely because we are taking the monuments down now that a course like this is so important,” Kamras added. “So that kids understand, ‘why did we get here?’ and ‘why were those monuments there for so long?”

The course is set to launch in the fall, and Kamras says RPS might make modified versions of the course available for elementary and middle school students.

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