RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Ownership of the statues and pedestals of Richmond’s Confederate monuments, including Robert E. Lee, will be transferred to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.
Governor Ralph Northam and Mayor Levar Stoney announced the plans on Thursday. The museum, in turn, is planning to partner with The Valentine and other Richmond cultural institutions to manage a multi-year, community-driven process to “determine the proper future use of each piece in the collection,” according to a press release from the mayor’s office.
Stoney will then seek Richmond City Council support in January to accept the property and transfer ownership of the monument to the Black History Museum, along with all city-owned Confederate statues removed to date and their pedestals. Those pedestals have yet to be removed.
The list of monuments includes:
- Robert E. Lee
- J.E.B. Stuart
- Stonewall Jackson
- Jefferson Davis
- Matthew Fontaine Maury
- Joseph Bryan
- Fitzhugh Lee
- Confederate Soldier and Sailors
- Ceremonial cannons
It does not include the monument of A.P. Hill, who is buried underneath the monument. Discussions are continuing with his descendants about relocating his remains, according to the release.
Three factors contributed to the decision of the transfer, said the office of the governor:
- Placing community-based museums in the driver’s seat to determine appropriate interpretation and curation of the monuments that can facilitate a fulsome and respectful dialogue on the issue.
- Ensuring decision-making and community input processes are not bogged down by government bureaucracy or politics.
- Providing a framework for catalyzing philanthropic support for both community engagement and future use of the monuments.
“Symbols matter, and for too long, Virginia’s most prominent symbols celebrated our country’s tragic division and the side that fought to keep alive the institution of slavery by any means possible,” said Gov. Northam. “Now it will be up to our thoughtful museums, informed by the people of Virginia, to determine the future of these artifacts, including the base of the Lee Monument which has taken on special significance as protest art.”
“Entrusting the future of these monuments and pedestals to two of our most respected institutions is the right thing to do,” said Mayor Stoney. “They will take the time that is necessary to properly engage the public and ensure the thoughtful future uses of these artifacts, while we reimagine Monument Avenue, focus on telling our history fully and accurately in places like Shockoe Bottom and lift up residents throughout the city.”
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