Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
A: I grew up in the North Side of Richmond within a maternal and paternal family steeped in education, achievement and community involvement. My education came from Richmond Public Schools: John B. Cary Model Elementary, Thomas Henderson Middle and Thomas Jefferson High School. I was a student leader at the University of Virginia, studying anthropology, African-American studies and economics. After training at the historic law firm of Hill, Tucker & Marsh, serving as the executive director of the Old Dominion Bar Association and as a special assistant to Gov. L. Douglas Wilder in the commonwealth of Virginia, I broadened my national perspectives in Chicago, Cambridge, Boston, Washington, D.C., and around the world on behalf of those locked out and left behind. After 23 years living away, I have returned to my hometown of Richmond and am a fourth-generation family member in the historic Jackson Ward community.
Q: What does it mean to you to be a visionary in your community? How do you feel your work has helped create a better future?
A: I view several qualities as prerequisites for a community visionary: apprenticeship, competence, commitment, collaboration and courage. I pray that my community work in Richmond has been able to provide a cultural and historical lens by which the world may view the contributions of the Jackson Ward neighborhood to the evolution of the United States. I’ve worked on the development of a plaza and statue to the life and legacy of Mrs. Maggie L. Walker. And I’m a sponsor of the U.N.I.T.Y. mural project, which supports street art in Jackson Ward.
Q: Who inspired you or served as a mentor for you professionally?
A: First and foremost, my parents, Stafford A. Flowers and Ellalee Fountain Flowers, have been my most influential mentors for their exemplary words, guidance and deeds. In addition, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be mentored and trained by some of the best minds in American history. Attorney Oliver W. Hill Sr., attorney Samuel W. Tucker, attorney and state Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, Judge Harold M. Marsh, Judge Richard D. Taylor Jr. of Hill, Tucker & Marsh law firm, Virginia delegate Jean W. Cunningham of the Virginia General Assembly, Judge Roger Gregory of the Old Dominion Bar Association, Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, attorney Barbara Arnwine of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, attorney Elaine Jones of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Dr. Ronald Walters of the Howard University Political Science department and Dr. Dorothy Height of the National Council of Negro Women are among them.
Q: Why is black history important to you, especially in our area?
A: Black history is important to me, in part, because of the words of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who said, “Black history represents the missing pages of world history.” One major focus in my life is to reinsert the missing pages of world history in every aspect of human development by individual and institutional means. For example, while Mrs. Maggie Lena Walker has been viewed by some in Richmond as merely the namesake of a racially segregated high school, her life and legacy should—and will—be known around the world. Mrs. Walker was the first woman in United States history to charter and preside over an American bank—an ardent activist, community organizer, statewide political candidate, anti-lynching advocate and staunch supporter of voting rights for women and African-Americans.
Q: What kind of legacy do you hope to leave in Richmond or on any community your work impacts?
A: I pray my legacy in Richmond is to have used my God-given talents to increase human-to-human understanding and cross-cultural respect and create a wonderful world for all people.