The George Floyd protests are causing everyone around the country to admit to the widespread racism and discrimination across the United States, and this reevaluation includes taking a good look at racist symbols sprinkled around the nation and making decisions about them.
In Richmond, Virginia, a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee will be removed from its central, visible location on Monument Avenue and placed in storage. Richmond’s Monument Avenue is lined with several homages to Confederate generals.
Over the weekend, protesters congregated around the statue of General Robert E. Lee and covered it in graffitis. Last night, an image of George Floyd’s face was projected onto the monument in a gesture meant to show that attitudes towards Black people have not changed very little in the United States — oppression is still front and center.
Talk about a picture. This is what the Robert E. Lee Monument looks like tonight. That is George Floyd’s picture being projected. @NBC12
— Olivia Ugino (@OliviaNBC12) June 4, 2020
On Thursday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced, “Today, we’re here to be honest about our past and talk about our future. We have to confront where we’ve been in order to shape where we’re going. In Virginia, for more than 400 years, we have set high ideals about freedom and equality. but we have fallen short of many of them.”
The statue of Lee is the largest on Richmond Avenue, standing six stories tall. While it has been confirmed that the Lee statue will be removed, the fate of the other statues on Monument Avenue has not been determined.
In a news conference on Thursday, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said, “It’s time to replace the racist symbols of oppression and inequality — symbols that have literally dominated our landscape. It’s time to heal, ladies and gentlemen.”
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said the statue’s removal is definitely the right move. Caucus Chairman Lamont Bagby called the statue “a constant reminder to Black Virginians of racism, dehumanization, and hate that exists and was prevalent throughout our history.”
The takedown of this statue is the most recent Confederate monument to fall in the wake of the George Floyd tragedy. Earlier this week, the city of Birmingham, Alabama, took down an obelisk dedicated to Confederate troops.