City Council renames Manchester Court House after someone still alive for first time ever

by | Jan 27, 2015 | POLITICS

City Council broke precedent Monday night when it voted unanimously to rename the Manchester Courthouse after Henry L. Marsh III, and Harold M. Marsh, Sr. Richmond normally waits until five years after a figure’s death until honoring him or her. Henry L. Marsh, Richmond’s first black mayor, is still alive, and spoke at the meeting.


City Council broke precedent Monday night when it voted unanimously to rename the Manchester Courthouse after Henry L. Marsh III, and Harold M. Marsh, Sr. Richmond normally waits until five years after a figure’s death until honoring him or her. Henry L. Marsh, Richmond’s first black mayor, is still alive, and spoke at the meeting.

Harold M. Marsh, Sr, Henry’s brother, whom the courthouse will also be named for, was a prominent lawyer and substitute judge who was murdered in 1997.

Before the measure was passed the mayor and council declared the month of February African American History Month. The renaming of the courthouse was one of two programs that the mayor introduced.

The other, a program in which five blocks would receive signs honoring the five council members who made up the first black majority on the City Council, was delayed. The council expressed concern that the measure did not have public support.

“Freedom isn’t free,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “This is a difficult road that needs to be remembered by us all.” The mayor stressed his desire to educate young people about the struggle of black Richmonders during slavery and the civil rights movement during the coming month.

Several supporters of the measure to rename the courthouse spoke after it had already passed. Council president Michelle Mosby (top image, left) allowed them to speak because the group had failed to recognize when citizen comment was allowed.

One such man was former City Council member Chuck Richardson. Richardson spoke highly of Marsh, praising work he did desegregating schools and calling his mayorship “unpaved ground.” Richardson quit the council in 1995 after repeated trouble with the law in regards to heroin.

“I think it’s somewhat odd that you all didn’t name the courts building after me,” joked Richardson. “I spent more time in the courts building than most of the lawyers. Most of anyone here in fact.”

Some meeting regulars expressed concern over the breaking of precedent in naming the courthouse after someone who is living.

Members of the city’s #blacklivesmatter protests, who shut down the council’s first meeting last January, left the meeting about an hour and a half in. The council had voted to move public comment to the end of the meeting.

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner




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