On July 21, 2008, The Virginia Civil Rights Memorial was unveiled on Capitol Square. The Memorial is a privately financed, $2.6 million granite and bronze statue. It is the first statue on the grounds of the historic Capitol to include depictions of blacks and women in prominent roles.
The 18-figure sculpture called a “living memorial” by sculptor Stanley Bleifeld is meant to represent a key moment in the history of the civil-rights movement in Virginia. The new Memorial spotlights the African-American students in rural Prince Edward County whose 1951 walkout to protest their run-down school led to a lawsuit that was folded into the challenge that triggered the 1954 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court banning segregated public schools.
Among the figures on the Memorial is Oliver W. Hill, Sr. holding a rumpled legal brief aloft as he stands shoulder to shoulder with law partner Spottswood W. Robinson III. They took on the case of the Prince Edward County students who protested the shabby condition of their school. Barbara Johns was the one who called the school strike in 1951 and she is also featured. The student protests garnered support from the local community, benefiting from the moral leadership of the Rev. L. Francis Griffin, who is also a part of the memorial.