RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WRIC) — A panel of Virginia lawmakers have advanced a bill to remove a statue of Harry F. Byrd Sr., a staunch segregationist, from the state Capitol grounds.
The decision to advance the bill comes amid a years long effort in history-rich Virginia to rethink who is honored in the state’s public spaces.
Byrd, a Democrat, served as governor and U.S. senator. He ran the state’s most powerful political machine for decades until his death in 1966 and was considered the architect of the state’s racist “massive resistance” policy to public school integration.
“Racism and its symbols, obvious and subtle, have no place in this new Virginia decade,” said Del. Jay Jones (D). “Monuments to segregation, Massive Resistance, and the subjugation of one race below another, such as the Byrd statue, serve only as a reminder of the overt and institutional racism that has and continues to plague our Commonwealth. It’s long past time to bring them down, and I’m proud to be a voice to do just that.”
The bill advanced on a party-line vote, with all Republicans on the committee voting against it. It will now head to the full House of Delegates for passage.