Donald Trump last appeared in Richmond when he held a rally at the Richmond Coliseum on June 10, 2016, during his campaign for the presidency.

Virginia Union University has revoked permission for a group that planned to honor President Donald Trump at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony.

A flyer distributed Tuesday listed Trump, along with son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, as honorees at Urban Revitalization Coalition’s planned Jan. 20 event at the Richmond university. (There was no indication that Trump was to attend.) The invitation-only event would have a $30,000 cash giveaway, according to the flyer.

Virginia Union, however, said Tuesday afternoon that it told the group, which is not affiliated with the university, that it “will not be permitted” to hold the event at the university, adding that the school wasn’t part of the planning and wasn’t told who would be participating.

“Once receiving the details, VUU made the decision to inform the URC that our campus was not the appropriate space for the event,” the historically black university said in a statement. “Virginia Union University is committed to its mission of empowering African Americans and other ethnic minorities through all of its programs, events, and partnerships.”

The coalition did not immediately return a request for comment.

Urban Revitalization Coalition is a nonprofit founded last year by two members of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, an organization of people from minority communities who support the president. The group held a similar event in Cleveland in December, giving away $25,000 in cash, according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, and has also held events in Florida and Georgia.

The Richmond event, according to Virginia Union’s statement, was described initially to university officials as “an economic development discussion providing over $30,000 in cash giveaways to local residents to help stimulate economic and community development while celebrating the life and legacy” of King inside the VUU Living and Learning Center.

Virginia Union President Hakim Lucas was among those listed as honorees. So was Johnathan Holifield, whom Trump appointed in 2017 as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The university said in its statement that it only learned about the specifics of the event as the flyer was being distributed Tuesday.

Virginia is the only Southern state Trump didn’t win in 2016. Democrat Hillary Clinton carried the state by 5 percentage points.

It was during that campaign that Trump made his last appearance in the city, holding a rally at the Richmond Coliseum in June 2016, at which he criticized then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his executive order that sought to restore the rights of 200,000 felons who had served their time.

He has continued to chime in on Virginia politics, calling for the resignation of top Democratic leaders engulfed by scandal in February 2019. The president suggested at the time that he would try to win Virginia in 2020, but he has not held any rallies in the state since, while making multiple appearances in North Carolina.

Before the most recent 2019 elections in Virginia, in which Democrats took a majority of both the House of Delegates and state Senate, Trump urged voters in the state to vote for Republicans. He specifically mentioned in a tweet Republican support for the Second Amendment as many Virginians worry about gun rights with Democrats advancing gun control measures.

Monday’s event would have coincided with a large rally the Virginia Citizens Defense League has planned at the Capitol where thousands are expected to support gun rights.

Get the Virginia Politics Insider email update every evening during the GA and weekly all year

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.


(804) 649-6012

Twitter: @jmattingly306

Politics/Education Reporter

Justin Mattingly covers state government and education. A northern New York native and a Syracuse University alumnus, he's worked at the RTD since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter at @jmattingly306.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.