RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A photo posted to Instagram is bringing two strangers together in the hopes of inspiring change.
While driving by the Robert E. Lee Monument Monday, Taylor Saunders snapped a photo of a woman teaching her daughters about history and race in America. She says the picture spoke volumes and it’s the message the country needs right now.
“We need unity,” Saunders told 8News. “That’s just the bottom line. Our people are really hurting now, but we just need unity.”
After Saunders posted the picture on her Instagram page, a mutual friend connected her with the woman in the photo. Then the two women had a beautiful exchange in private messages.
8News was there when the women had an emotional face-to-face meeting near the soon-to-be-removed statue.
“I just wanted everyone to see you as the example of the positive bright light that our future can take if we were all to take an example as what you’re doing,” Saunders said to her new friend Brooks Whitten.
Whitten responded to Saunders saying “I’m trying, but I also need an ally in you now to help me. To help me understand how much I don’t understand.”
Whitten says when the image was captured, she was having an open and honest conversation with her daughters.
“I want my kids to understand from a really early age that humanity is humanity,” Whitten said. “For a long, long time people have been treated really differently just because they look differently and that it’s not right.”
Whitten says the main message she wants her daughters to take away is that everyone is connected.
“It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you are from, we were all born into whatever circumstances we were born into, but we’re all people and we’re all in this together and if we can’t see that then we’re not destined for greatness,” Whitten said.
Whitten adds that it’s important to step into discomfort in order to understand history. She says for many parents struggling with explaining the current climate with their children, “just do the best you can with an open heart.”
Both Whitten and Saunders say the photo has created a bond that will last a lifetime and plan to stay connected and work together to inspire others.