Overnight, crews under the direction of House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn removed a statue of General Robert E. Lee and seven other busts honoring members of the Confederacy. This move comes after years of advocacy from community members and organizations who want these hateful symbols removed from all public spaces.
“We’re thrilled that these monuments to traitors and white supremacists are finally gone from our Capitol. Everyone should feel they have an equal voice in government and are respected by those we elect to govern us. Putting symbols of white supremacy in a place of prominence in our Capitol sent the unmistakable message about who was and was not welcome. These symbols were designed to intimidate and make Black people in our community feel unsafe while they make their voices heard in our legislative process. It’s long past time they were gone,” Anna Scholl, Executive Director of Progress Virginia, said. “But removing monuments to the Confederacy is just a baby step towards true equity for everyone in our community. We have a lot of work to do to dismantle white supremacy in all of its forms in Virginia. We hope that members of the General Assembly will take this energy into their special session and pass meaningful legislation to begin to dismantle systemic racism and ensure everyone in our community, Black, brown or white, has the opportunity to thrive.”
Progress Virginia first brought attention to this issue in 2018 when we noticed the Confederate Battle Flag was hanging in the Capitol Visitors’ Center and given equal importance as the American flag. We called for its immediate removal from the Capitol so that people arriving to participate in the legislative process weren’t immediately greeted by a hate symbol.
Removing these symbols of the Confederacy comes after weeks of protests in Richmond calling for the removal of Confederate monuments where peaceful protesters were brutalized by police.