Virginia's Removed Confederate Monuments May Go to Black History Museum, Cultural Center

Confederate monuments owned by the city of Richmond, Virginia, may be given to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia under a tentative plan announced by Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. The Black History Museum would be able to collaborate with The Valentine museum and local community members to decide what would happen to the monuments if and when ownership is transferred.

Most of the city's Confederate monuments have already been removed, including the massive statue of General Robert E. Lee. The 21-foot-tall bronze effigy was lifted and lowered to the ground in September as some people chanted, "Hey, hey, hey, goodbye."

Northam watched the removal and said that it signaled "hopefully a new day, a new era in Virginia."

"Any remnant like this that glorifies the lost cause of the Civil War, it needs to come down," he said.

Ana Edwards, a founding member of the Virginia Defenders for Freedom Justice & Equality, said at the time of the removal that it was difficult to comprehend that the statue would ever be taken down.

"It's representative of the fact that we're sort of peeling back the layers of injustice that Black people and people of color have experienced when governed by white supremacist policies for so long," she said.

Work to remove the 40-foot-tall pedestal that held the Robert E. Lee statue is still in progress. The city's other Confederate memorials include a Stonewall Jackson statue, a General J.E.B. Stuart statue and a monument to Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president.

Virginia Confederate Statues
Confederate monuments owned by the city of Richmond, Virginia, may be given to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia under a tentative plan announced by Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. Above, the statue of Robert E. Lee is lowered from its pedestal during its removal on September 8 in Richmond. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The deal requires the City Council's approval, which Stoney said he would seek next month. The arrangement would enable the community to take a deliberate approach in its reckoning with such divisive symbols, Stoney said in a statement.

"Entrusting the future of these monuments and pedestals to two of our most respected institutions is the right thing to do," Stoney said.

Stoney directed the removal of the city's Confederate monuments last summer amid the protest movement that erupted after the police killing of George Floyd.

The statues have been in storage since then, at least part of that time at the city's wastewater plant. Not all of the pedestals have been removed.

Around the same time the city's statues were removed, Northam announced plans to remove the Lee statue, which was located on state property. But litigation tied up those plans until earlier this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Richmond Confederate Statues
Richmond, Virginia's Confederate memorials include a Stonewall Jackson statue, a General J.E.B. Stuart statue and a monument to Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president. Above, people visit the graffiti-covered statue of Stuart on June 14, 2020, on Monument Avenue in Richmond. Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images