Stat­u­ary Hall

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY JUSTIN MAT­TINGLY Rich­mond Times-Dis­patch jmat­tingly@times­dis­ (804) 649-6012 Twit­ter: @jmat­tingly306

Pelosi wants to re­place Lee statue at U.S. Capi­tol.

THURS­DAY, JUNE 18, 2020

• • •

The statue of Robert E. Lee on Rich­mond’s Mon­u­ment Av­enue isn’t the only trib­ute to the Con­fed­er­ate gen­eral that could soon come down.

In a let­ter to the com­mit­tee that over­sees the Na­tional Stat­u­ary Hall, where

Lee rep­re­sents Vir­ginia along with Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, re­quested that stat­ues hon­or­ing Con­fed­er­ate sol­diers and lead­ers be taken down.

“The halls of Congress are the very heart of our democ­racy. The stat­ues in the Capi­tol should em­body our high­est ideals as Amer­i­cans, ex­press­ing who we are and who we as­pire to be as a na­tion,” Pelosi wrote. “Mon­u­ments to men who ad­vo­cated cru­elty and bar­barism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque af­front to th­ese ideals. Their stat­ues pay homage to hate, not her­itage. They must be re­moved.”

Pelosi’s let­ter asks the Joint Com­mit­tee on the Li­brary to di­rect the Capi­tol’s ar­chi­tect to “im­me­di­ately take steps” to re­move the 11 stat­ues. Democrats have also in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion to send the stat­ues back to the states that sent them there.

Each state con­trib­utes two stat­ues to the Stat­u­ary Hall col­lec­tion, which is open to vis­i­tors. Be­sides Lee, Con­fed­er­ate lead­ers in the hall in­clude Pres­i­dent Jef­fer­son Davis (Mis­sis­sippi) and Vice Pres­i­dent Alexan­der Stephens (Ge­or­gia), among oth­ers. Vir­ginia tapped Lee for one of its two stat­ues in 1909.

Dena Pot­ter, spokeswoma­n for the Vir­ginia De­part­ment of Gen­eral Ser­vices, said Thurs­day that the agency main­tains the Lee statue since it is state-owned. If it were to be re­moved, she said, the lo­ca­tion for where it would be stored would not be dis­closed “for se­cu­rity rea­sons.”

Pelosi spokesman Drew Ham­mill said the speaker’s of­fice has not been in touch with Vir­ginia of­fi­cials on the statue’s fu­ture. Her let­ter, dated June 10, calls for the Con­fed­er­ate iconog­ra­phy to be re­moved from pub­lic dis­play un­til states can re­place them.

Alena Yar­mosky, a spokeswoma­n for Gov. Ralph Northam, said Thurs­day that the gov­er­nor “ab­so­lutely sup­ports” re­mov­ing and re­plac­ing the Lee statue in the U.S. Capi­tol.

A com­mis­sion es­tab­lished un­der leg­is­la­tion filed at Northam’s re­quest set to take ef­fect next month has been tasked with do­ing just that.

The Com­mis­sion for His­tor­i­cal Stat­ues in the United States Capi­tol will make rec­om­men­da­tions on if the Lee statue should con­tinue to rep­re­sent Vir­ginia in Congress and if not, who should re­place him. The eight-mem­ber panel has un­til Dec. 1 to is­sue its re­port.

“It’s time for us to have a con­ver­sa­tion about whether that is who we want to rep­re­sent the com­mon­wealth to­day in 2020,” said Sen. Jennifer McClel­lan, DRich­mond, in Fe­bru­ary when the Se­nate ap­proved cre­at­ing the com­mis­sion.

Pelosi has also called for the U.S. to re­name mil­i­tary bases that honor Con­fed­er­ate lead­ers, of which Vir­ginia has three — Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pick­ett. Northam sup­ports re­mov­ing the Con­fed­er­ate names from the mil­i­tary bases.

“Just like the stat­ues, th­ese names are di­vi­sive,” he said at a news con­fer­ence last week. “I think most peo­ple ... sup­port re­mov­ing the di­vi­sive­ness from the names, whether it be posts, stat­ues, the names of streets, what­ever.”

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has said he is not in fa­vor of re­mov­ing the names from mil­i­tary bases.


Vir­ginia con­trib­uted the Robert E. Lee statue to the Na­tional Stat­u­ary Hall Col­lec­tion on Capi­tol Hill in 1909.


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