2021 Year in Photos
1/6/2022, 6 p.m.
The year 2021 was a tug of war between the life changes precipitated by the COVID-19-related shutdowns of 2020 and efforts to return to a pre-COVID way of life.
Richmonders started 2021 with high hopes for a return to normalcy with the newly introduced vaccines becoming more widely available and eagerly taken, first by older adults and those with underlying health conditions, and by year’s end vaccine approval for children ages 5 and older.
As long lines formed with people ready to roll up their sleeves for the vaccine, hope turned to hesitancy in some quarters, and struggles continued over vaccine, booster and mask mandates as conditions for employment and returning to in-person university learning and to K-12 classrooms.
The economic hardships, social disruptions and uncertainty caused by the pandemic helped fuel a rise in gun violence and deaths in Richmond and around the nation, particularly in communities already strained by poverty. Vigils and funerals were held in Richmond and Henrico for victims claimed by violence. Some somber ceremonies were held virtually in the wake of the more highly transmissible delta and omicron variants of the virus late in the year.
Still, throughout 2021, people sought to engage in “normal” school and sporting activities and birthday, graduation and holiday celebrations with some pandemic-related adjustments built in.
A hotly contested election for Virginia governor drove voters to the polls statewide in nearly record numbers during the fall and drew campaign visits to Richmond by former President Obama and other national figures.
And the racial reckoning borne out of the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020 continued into 2021. The six-story statue and pedestal honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, a symbol of white supremacy since its erection in 1890, was removed from Richmond’s Monument Avenue.
In telling the whole story, officials also unveiled and dedicated a new Emancipation and Freedom Monument on Brown’s Island on the James River in Downtown.
Richmond Free Press photographers Sandra Sellars and Regina H. Boone and freelance photographers Clement Britt and Randy Singleton captured the ups and downs of 2021 through their work. Here are some of the highlights.