New president of Danville Historical Society plans to focus on its mission and inclusion

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 8:08 PM EDT
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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - Just two weeks into her role as president of the Danville Historical Society, Kendall Ratliffe says they are working to promote inclusiveness and to build trust with the Black community to help tell all sides of Danville’s history.

Like other members of the Danville Historical Society, Ratliffe was left in complete shock when the former president had racist comments about confederate monuments posted through his Facebook profile in July.

“Danville’s history, last capital of the confederacy, some really vile segregation and suppression here, awareness of that context made it a very stressful and upsetting situation,” said Ratliffe.

The former president, Mark Joyner, says a friend of his made the comments while using his phone.

Still, he resigned, leading to Ratliffe stepping in.

She says she is aware of the road ahead to repair the damaged relationship between the organization and the community.

“If you are just now hearing of DHS, then it probably would have a great perception, and it is on DHS to change that to do the work,” said Ratliffe.

Ratliffe hopes to bridge the gap between the organization and the Black community, feeling it is up to the organization to make everyone feel welcome enough to share their history.

“Our sustainability will be based on us hustling, going out of our context and making new relationships,” said Ratliffe, with the hope that connecting the past will help unite the present.

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