Richmond Robert E. Lee Statue Heads To Black History Museum | Smart News
Months after his withdrawal from Richmond’s Avenue of Monuments, a huge equestrian statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee has likely found a new home. As the Associated press (AP), on Virginia Black History Museum and Cultural Center (BHMVA) has reached an agreement in principle with state and city authorities to acquire the Lee Statue and other destroyed Confederate monuments in the Virginia capital.
The deal, announced last Thursday by Gov. Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, awaits city council approval, which is expected to discuss the measure later this month. Under the agreement, BHMVA will work with the local community and the Valentine museum, devoted to the history of Richmond, to determine the fate of the statues.
“Entrusting the future of these monuments and pedestals to two of our most respected institutions is the right thing to do,” Stoney said in a statement quoted by the Washington postby Gregory S. Schneider.
In the summer of 2020, amid widespread protests against racial injustice, Richmond withdrew four confederate statues which previously bordered Monument Avenue. The act was part of a wave of statue removals across the country, with at least 168 Confederation symbols dismantled This year. But a lawsuit filed by a group of Richmond residents kept the statue of Lee standing until September 2021, when the Virginia Supreme Court dismissed the case and paved the way for the monument’s removal.
Some communities in Virginia struggled to deal with these controversial statues after their removal. Speak To post, activists in Albemarle County criticized officials for agreeing to send a picture of a confederate soldier to a Shenandoah Valley battlefield for continuous display. Meanwhile, some conservatives have frowned upon Charlottesville’s choice to donate its statue of Lee to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, which plans to melt the work and transform its remains into a new work of art. Opponents of this action filed a complaint against Charlottesville last month.
The news in Richmond doesn’t limit what museums can do with monuments. Interim Executive Director of BHMVA Marland Buckner said in the same statement that the museum “takes very seriously the responsibility of managing these objects in such a way as to ensure that their origins and purpose are never forgotten: it is the glorification of those who led the fight to enslave the Afro -Americans and destroy the Union â.
Greg Werkheiser, founder of Cultural heritage partners, a law firm representing the two museums in the transfer, says BBC News that monuments support a âfalse historical narrativeâ but remain important as an âeducational toolâ.
The Lee Monument was erected in 1890, at a time when Confederate symbols provided a rallying point for advocates of racial segregation and the oppressive laws of Jim Crow. The 1890s represented the height of white supremacist terrorism in the United States, with more than 1,000 black Americans lynched during that decade, according to data compiled by the University of Missouri.
Speak Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR), the unveiling of the statue drew up to 150,000 people, the largest public gathering in Richmond since the inauguration of the President of the Confederate States Jefferson Davis in 1861. The state agency adds that “the monument provided a physical icon for the cult of the ‘lost cause’, a revisionist and anhistorical ideology which suggests that the civil war was waged to protect the rights of states rather only to ensure the continuation of slavery.
“Symbols matter, and for too long, Virginia’s most important symbols have celebrated the tragic division of our country and the side that fought to keep the institution of slavery alive by any means possible.” Northam said in a statement provided to NPR. “Now it will be up to our thoughtful museums, informed by the people of Virginia, to determine the future of these artifacts.”