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Barbara Abernathy Ross, a 'Hero of Carver,' Preserved and Fought for Her Neighborhood

Abernathy-RossIn his Dec. 31 Richmond Times-Dispatch opinion piece, Michael Paul Williams details the legacy of Barbara Abernathy Ross, who died Dec. 21 at age 77. Community members and city leaders remembered her as a determined advocate for the Carver neighborhood where she lived.

Williams wrote, "Anyone who doubts the profound value of a tenacious civic leader need look no further than the life of Barbara Abernathy Ross, who may well be remembered as the woman who saved Carver.

During the mid- 1990s, rebuffed in its plan to expand south into Oregon Hill, Virginia Commonwealth University began casting glances north toward Broad Street and Carver, a historically black, working-class community west of Jackson Ward.

Ross ultimately had the vision to view VCU less as an adversary than as a potential partner in the preservation and revitalization of her struggling neighborhood. Her legacy today is Carver as a viable and tangible community instead of as a cautionary take that easily could have gone the way of Fulton or Navy Hill, communities that were eradicated in the name of progress."

In 1996, VCU launched the Carver-VCU Partnership, an agreement between Dr. Eugene Trani, president of VCU at the time, and Abernathy Ross, then president of the Carver Area Civic Improvement League. The partnership aimed to create a shared urban community with a commitment to improving the neighborhood’s quality of life, while providing learning opportunities for students. The legacy of this partnership is being carried on through an expanded vision that incorporates additional neighborhoods surrounding campus.

Learn more about VCU's Neighborhood Outreach.

Read Abernathy Ross' obituary.