RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)–The future of Richmond’s confederate monuments is coming into focus, as ownership of the items will soon be handed over to the Black History Museum.
Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced all the statues, most of which were removed last summer, will be transferred to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.
Greg Werkheiser, the legal counsel for the Black History Museum, said they’re already working on releasing a community engagement plan.
“[They] decided that there needed to be a fuller, more thoughtful process of engaging the public in deciding what happens to these monuments collectively and individually,” he said.
While one or more of the statues could make their way to the museum, its priority is listening to the public.
“They want to take a creative approach and maybe a non-traditional approach of meeting people where they are,” said Werkheiser.
Bill Martin, the director of the Valentine, said as part of a partnership, they’ll be consulting the Black History Museum on the plan.
“There’s a lot of work to do to set up the process,” he said.
That work includes possibly sending out surveys around the city, inviting other community organizations and institutions to participate, and considering proposals submitted to the city throughout the removal process.
The debate over the future of Richmond’s Confederate monuments really heated up during the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd and protests across the country.
Martin said the removal of the monuments and their final resting spot could open up a much-needed dialogue for both sides.
“We want to bring as many voices as we can to the table so that everyone feels engaged. By doing this we allow the city to respond to the pressing needs of the city,” he said. “Will there be consensus when it’s done? Probably not, but we want to make sure as many people’s voices are heard as the plan merges.”
Werkheiser said this process can take up to a year and a half.
“These institutions serve the public and if there’s any value to be rescued from these relics it’ll have to be rescued in a way the public wants to understand an accurate and more full history of Richmond and of Virginia,” he said.
The museum said its community engagement plan will be announced in the next few weeks.