House Speaker Eileen Filler Corn said monuments to Robert E. Lee and others who tried to secede from America were removed this morning
House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn announced that the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee alongside several busts of Confederate figureheads have been removed from the Old House Chamber of the Virginia State Capitol this morning.
“Virginia has a story to tell that extends far beyond glorifying the Confederacy and its participants. The Confederacy’s primary objective in the Civil War was to preserve an ideology that maintained the enslavement of human beings,” said Filler-Corn.
Under the authority given by the Constitution of Virginia and the Rules of the House, the speaker directed Clerk Suzette Denslow to remove the Confederate artifacts from the Old House Chamber. The removal was supervised by a professional conservator to ensure appropriate movement.
The death of George Floyd in May at the hands of police reignited a conversation about racism in the United States, including the removal of Confederate monuments scattered across the nation.
At one point in time, Virginia had the most Confederate monuments than any other state. Several Virginia cities have removed their statues after Gov. Ralph Northam passed a bill that gave localities the power to do so. Other statues were taken down by protesters during anti-racism demonstrations.
“The artifacts at the Capitol are a painful reminder of the deep-rooted wounds of slavery and 401 years of oppression. These Confederate artifacts are constant reminders of individuals who had no intentions of guaranteeing justice, equality and equity for all,” said Del. Delores McQuinn in a statement.
Alongside the removal of the Lee statue, eight other artifacts of people who were apart of the Confederacy were also removed including:
- Joseph E. Johnston
- Fitzhugh Lee
- Alexander H. Stephens
- Thomas Bocock
- Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson
- James E.B. “Jeb” Stuart
- Jefferson F. Davis
- Matthew F. Maury
Additionally, the speaker formed an advisory board on State Capitol Artifacts in order to look at items under House Control. Led by McQuinn, the group will advise Filler-Corn on possible future actions regarding the artifacts under House Control.
“Now is the time to provide context to our Capitol to truly tell the Commonwealth’s whole history,” said Filler-Corn. “I look forward to Delegate McQuinn and the Advisory Group on State Capitol Artifacts to work to ensure our Capitol reflects the broad experience of all Virginians.”