Activists replace statue of Robert E. Lee with statue of a pregnant black woman in Baltimore

Activists replace statue of Robert E. Lee with statue of a pregnant black woman in Baltimore
Activists erect a statue called "Madre Luz," a pregnant black woman, in front of where a statue of Civil War Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson once stood in Baltimore. The city removed the Lee and Jackson statue early Wednesday morning. (Image source: Baltimore Sun report screenshot)

Last Sunday, Baltimore activists placed a statue stylized as “lady liberty of black power,” in front of a statue of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson riding horses side by side according to WUSA-TV.

The Lee and Stonewall statue was removed on Wednesday by city officials, but the activist’s statue still remains.

According to WUSA, the statue of Lee and Jackson was one of four Confederate statues removed by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. Pugh said she ordered the removals of the statues as a matter of public safety after the violence seen in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday.

The clash between leftist radicals and white supremacists in Charlottesville began as a protest over the removal of a statue of Lee.

Pugh said the statues are safely in storage, but did not disclose the location. The mayor suggested that the statues could be relocated to Confederate cemeteries in the future.

Artist Pablo Machioli and a few of his friends erected a papier-mache statue of a pregnant black woman holding her fist into the air, to stand in front of the Lee and Jackson statue. The statue is adorned with a rainbow sash, a baby on her back, and her raised fist is coated in gold glitter.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the statue is called “Madre Luz,” or “Mother Light” in Spanish.

According to City Paper, Machioli first erected the statue in front of the Lee and Jackson statue in 2015. The idea came from Machioli’s friend, Silverman Andrews, who wanted to “create attention” about social justice issues like white supremacy and racism in art, and to celebrate the 2016 Baltimore riots.

Originally, the statue was supposed to be an image of abolitionist Harriet Tubman throwing a brick at Lee and Jackson. Machioli did not want a statue depicting violence, and instead created “Madre Luz.”

“Madre Luz” was placed in front of the Lee and Jackson statue after its creation. It was removed and impounded in less than 24 hours, and Machioli was fined $75. Afterward, Machioli moved the statue to his home at the Copycat Building, a warehouse converted a space where artists live and work. It stayed there for the next two years.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Machioli and his friends brought the statue back to stand in front of the Lee and Jackson monument on Sunday, following the events of Charlottesville. Though the Lee and Jackson monument is gone, “Madre Luz” still stands. The statue is not sanctioned by the city, but has not been removed by city officials.

The Baltimore Sun reported that “Madre Luz” has been knocked over and vandalized several times. Each time, Machiol and his friends return to repair it.