RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The Richmond Flying Squirrels on Wednesday announced several programs and initiatives aimed at honoring and celebrating the Richmond 34.
On February 22, 1960, 34 students from Virginia Union University were arrested for staging a sit-in at the whites only lunch counter at the Thalheimers Department Store downtown. Their actions inspired the later desegregation of Richmond.
“We felt strongly all throughout our organization that this was a story that we wanted to help tell for years and years and years to come,” said Todd “Parney” Parnell, Richmond Flying Squirrels CEO.
The Squirrels announced the number 34 will join the number 42 of baseball legend Jackie Robinson as a retired number, meaning no player or coach on the field will ever wear the number again.
“In Richmond, the number 34 is a number we all should remember, and we all will remember from now on and for generations to come,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said. “Not because it sums up the contributions of one person, because it captures the contributions of a team. And in most things in life, it takes a team to accomplish great things together.”
Elizabeth Johnson Rice, one of the Richmond 34, will serve as as Flying Squirrels community ambassador as part of the team’s Richmond 34 Legacy Campaign, which will have the story of the Richmond 34 told in schools and across the community.
“We’re amongst true heroes today, and we want that story to be told more and more and more,” “We’re not just a baseball team here in Richmond.”
In addition to that, fans that drive by The Diamond will be able to see part of the team’s tribute to the Richmond 34 with a legacy mural painted on the outside the stadium.
Partnerships with Virginia Union University and Virginia State University for career advancement and mentorship programs with the Richmond Flying Squirrels was also announced. Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, president of VSU, and Dr. Kahim J. Lucas, president of VUU, were in attendance and briefly addressed the crowd gathered, expressing their excitement for the future with the Flying Squirrels.
The team also announced a Richmond 34 Legacy Weekend this summer will take place. While honoring the Richmond 34, the team will also honor other local leaders who played a part in the Civil Rights Movement, along with the new generation of leaders and activists who are working to further the cause of social justice and equality.
“End Racism” t-shirts will be given out to fans over the course of the weekend, and the team will wear specialty jerseys inspired by players in the Negro League, which will be later auctioned off to help establish a Richmond 34 Legacy Scholarship Fund.