Interviewed by Cesca Janece Waterfield
On Feb. 25, Christy Coleman will be honored as a “Legacy Leader” at the “Living a Legacy” Gala. As President of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, Christy leads innovative programming in telling the stories of the Civil War – Union, Confederate and African American. She has a remarkable talent for building partnerships in the Richmond community. But Coleman is a woman of many talents. The Williamsburg native earned her Master’s degree at Hampton University. She’s written an Emmy-winning screenplay and performed in historical programs for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Last year she was awarded a Richmond Star Award by the Richmond Area Council of American Business Women’s Association. Christy talks about leading a legacy.
Her job at Historic Tredegar: Our mission is to tell the whole story of the conflict that still shapes our lives. It’s about relevance to our immediate community as well as relevance to our national discourse. That’s what my job is about, and I do it through this incredible site.
Biggest reward: I don’t want to be clichéd – because everybody says ‘the a-ha moment’ and all that kind of foolishness. What it really is: when people have that moment of, dare I say, transformation, when they reach a point that there is something that they’ve learned that encourages them to think about something in a new way or in a more complete way. You can see that on their faces. That to me is the coolest thing. They say, ‘I gotta come back! There’s so much, I’ve got to learn more about that.’
Favorite era in history: Personally, I am really an early-Republic person. The Civil War is interesting. But I am really fascinated by the choices that were made and the social and political and racial dynamics and how folks figured out how to reconcile all that with an ideal, and where and how they compromised. That just fascinates the daylight out of me.
Favorite place to unwind: My favorite, contemplative, private, by myself, nobody-but-me place is anywhere by the water. I like just walking and being next to the water. My favorite place for that is walking along the beaches of the Colonial Parkway on the Jamestown/James River side. I just love it. I go and sit and it’s just me.
What “Living the Legacy” means to her: To try to encourage communities to engage in deeper thinking about who we are. Here is a community with a wealth of historical resources. We have defined ourselves by four years 150 years ago when the history is so vast and so rich. That’s been my passion: finding cooperative and interesting ways to work with the variety of amazing organizations in this community. I mean, they’re amazing! The galleries, St. John’s Church, the Hippodrome just opened. The story of America is right here in Richmond.
Living and Leading the Legacy
“Living the Legacy” Black Tie Gala will honor two Richmond area residents and a local nonprofit, Feb. 25 at Southside Baptist Christian School. The esteemed group is united by their contributions to the community and the legacies they have given to future generations. The Gala will be hosted by Carrie Rose, from “CBS 6 This Morning,” “Virginia This Morning,” and “CBS 6 News at Noon.” Carrie is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist in the American Meteorological Society and joined the WTVR team in 2008.
Legacy Leader: Christy Coleman, American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar
Legacy Maker: Impact 100 Richmond – An innovative nonprofit in which women make personal donations of $1,000 and collectively bestow a $100,000 grant to a mutually-selected nonprofit.
Legacy Keeper: The Honorable Benjamin J. Lambert, III – A former Democratic Senator and member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Lambert graduated from Virginia Union University and the Massachusetts College of Optometry. He serves on the Board of several corporations including Dominion Resources and he is a member of the American Optometric Association.
Robert Grey Jr., Keynote Speaker
Robert J. Grey Jr. is a partner in the Richmond office of Hunton & Williams. He was the second person of color to serve as president of the American Bar Association. One focus of his term was to increase diversity in the legal profession. Grey earned his J.D. from Washington and Lee University in 1976, and his B.S. from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1973. Grey has chaired the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Richmond Partnership and Youth Matters and was president of the Richmond Crusade for Voters.
Dr. Edward Ayers, Special Guest Speaker
Edward Ayers has been president of the University of Richmond since 2007. Ayers is the author of ten books, including one that was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He created The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War, an award winning Web site.
Feb. 25, 7 pm, $55 per person through Feb. 18; then increasing to $70; VIP tickets, $100 per persons. Tickets will not be available at the door. Call 281-4320 for event sponsorship info. Southside Baptist Christian School, 5515 Bryce Lane, Richmond