“He inspired me.” Lynchburg community unveils statue of late Mayor Thornhill

Published: Aug. 19, 2023 at 6:54 PM EDT
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - M. W. “Teedy” Thornhill Jr. was the first African American Mayor of Lynchburg, from 1990 to 1992. The city of Lynchburg gathered Saturday to witness the unveiling of a life-size statue dedicated to his public service.

Thornhill was a civil rights activist, president of the Lynchburg Voter’s League for over 40 years, and a loving husband to his wife, she says.

“I have no words to adequately express how we feel, but I will be reminting if I did not make an attempt so thank you, thank you, thank you,” says Thornhill’s wife, Mrs. Frances Scruggs Thornhill.

Thornhill was elected to the city council in 1976 and served as vice mayor for 12 years before becoming the city’s first Black mayor.

“This statue honors the legacy of Lynchburg’s first African American mayor, but it also serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration to future generations,” says the Mayor of Lynchburg, Stephanie T. Reed.

The first Black female mayor of Lynchburg, Treney Tweedy, says Thornhill was a catalyst for bringing the community together during a divisive time.

“It is a huge honor, and it just shows the heart and the love that he had for the community, and in leadership, you have to have that same heart for all of the community. And he led the way,” stated Tweedy.

Thornhill’s eldest grandson says his family’s love and support led him to chase his own dreams.

“He inspired me.” explained Thornhill’s grandson, Richard Evans, Jr. “He was like, if you want to do something, stick with it, and just be passionate about it. As far as me, I’ve been passionate about the same thing for twenty years.”

Evan says his grandfather always told him -

“Everybody has a story and his story is being told with a statue.”

The monument is on the 700 block of Fifth Street roundabout in Lynchburg.