The statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate States Army during the Civil War, was removed from the U.S. Capitol.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) wrote in an announcement on Monday morning that the statue was removed overnight, after being displayed for 111 years. It was part of Virginia’s display where it stood next to America’s first president George Washington in the National Statuary Hall Collection.
“We should all be proud of this important step forward for our Commonwealth and our country,” Northam said in a statement.
The Commission for Historical Statues in the United States Capitol chose civil rights icon Barbara Rose Johns to replace Lee’s statue. The replacement must be approved by the General Assembly.
In Northam’s Dec. 16 budget proposal for Virginia, he included $500,000 to replace Lee’s statue.
Northam said in his statement:
“The Confederacy is a symbol of Virginia’s racist and divisive history, and it is past time we tell our story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion. I look forward to seeing a trailblazing young woman of color represent Virginia in the U.S. Capitol, where visitors will learn about Barbara Johns’ contributions to America and be empowered to create positive change in their communities just like she did.”
See the photos below:
Last night, Virginia removed its statue of Robert E. Lee from the U.S. Capitol.
This is an important step forward—it is past time we tell our story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion. pic.twitter.com/zyR99ukiIz
— Governor Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) December 21, 2020
The removal of the statue was also “welcome news” to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as she put it. She wrote in a statement:
“The removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee and its forthcoming replacement by a tribute to Barbara Johns, a civil rights pioneer and pride of Virginia, is welcome news. The halls of Congress are the very heart of our Democracy, and the statues within the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans.”
The House speaker also vowed, “The Congress will continue our work to rid the Capitol of homages to hate, as we fight to end the scourge of racism in our country. There is no room for celebrating the bigotry of the Confederacy in the Capitol or any other place of honor in our country.”
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