The statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was removed from the U.S. Capitol building over the weekend, by request of the governor of Lee's home state of Virginia.
What are the details?
"Last night, Virginia removed its statue of Robert E. Lee from the U.S. Capitol," Gov. Ralph Northam (D) tweeted Monday, saying, "This is an important step forward—it is past time we tell our story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion."
Last night, Virginia removed its statue of Robert E. Lee from the U.S. Capitol. This is an important step forward… https://t.co/PGfTSY8ukU— Ralph Northam (@Ralph Northam)1608557207.0
The statue of Lee will be replaced by civil rights leader Barbara Rose Johns, who led a 1951 student walkout at her all-black high school at the age of 16 to protest conditions of the institution compared to those at a nearby all-white school. She is credited with playing a critical role in the desegregation of America.
Northam said in a statement:
"We should all be proud of this important step forward for our Commonwealth and our country. The Confederacy is a symbol of Virginia's racist and divisive history, and it is past time we tell our story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion. I look forward to seeing a trailblazing young woman of color represent Virginia in the U.S. Capitol, where visitors will learn about Barbara Johns' contributions to America and be empowered to create positive change in their communities just like she did."
Fellow Virginian Sen. Tim Kaine (D) took footage of the Lee statue being removed:
4:02 am. 12/21/20. Crypt of the US Capitol. https://t.co/2ttGecsj5B— Tim Kaine (@Tim Kaine)1608561465.0
According to NBC News, "For 111 years, the statue stood alongside that of the nation's first president, George Washington, as the state of Virginia's contribution to the National Statuary Hall. Each state is allowed two statues in the collection."
A news release from Northam's office noted that the statue of Lee "had been one among 13 located in the Crypt of the Capitol, representing the 13 original colonies." The Virginia Museum of History and Culture in Richmond, Virginia, will now take ownership of the statue, according to the release.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hailed the decision, saying in a statement, "The removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee and its forthcoming replacement by a tribute to Barbara Johns, a civil rights pioneer and pride of Virginia, is welcome news. The halls of Congress are the very heart of our Democracy, and the statues within the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans."
She added, "The Congress will continue our work to rid the Capitol of homages to hate, as we fight to end the scourge of racism in our country. There is no room for celebrating the bigotry of the Confederacy in the Capitol or any other place of honor in our country."
Not everyone agreed with the decision. Republican state Sen.-elect Wendy Rogers from Arizona tweeted in reaction, "Robert E Lee was a great patriot and a great leader. They are not just tearing him down. They are coming after all of us. Get involved now. You could be next."
Robert E Lee was a great patriot and a great leader. They are not just tearing him down. They are coming after all… https://t.co/Di8ijxLSpP— Wendy Rogers (@Wendy Rogers)1608571193.0
She argued later that Lee "fought a war to defend the Commonwealth of Virginia which is where his family lived. Upon surrendering, he did more than anyone to heal the divide between the North and the South. Very ignorant liberals simply create straw men and red herrings."
The Daily Wire's Matt Walsh also defended the legacy of Lee, tweeting that the general "was a far better and more impressive man than all of the people pulling his statues down."
Robert E Lee was a far better and more impressive man than all of the people pulling his statues down— Matt Walsh (@Matt Walsh)1608571073.0