Yesterday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued the following statement after the formal removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond:
“After 133 years, the statue of Robert E. Lee has finally come down — the last Confederate statue on Monument Avenue, and the largest in the South. The public monuments reflect the story we choose to tell about who we are as a people. It is time to display history as history, and use the public memorials to honor the full and inclusive truth of who we are today and in the future.”
The Lee statue was erected in 1890, a generation after the Civil War, during a time in which southern states were working to reinforce white supremacist systems and structures across their governments, services, and societies.
More than a year ago, the Northam Administration proposed removing the Lee Monument in Richmond.
Court challenges prevented that action until last week, when the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously agreed that the removal could move forward. The 12-ton statue was removed Wednesday in a process that took approximately one hour. The statue will be placed in secure storage at a state facility until a permanent, appropriate location is chosen for its display.
The 40-foot granite pedestal will remain for the time being. The pedestal’s final disposition will be determined following a community-driven effort to reimagine Monument Avenue, including the state-owned property surrounding the monument and the pedestal. The City of Richmond and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts are spearheading the effort on behalf of the Commonwealth.