Richmond’s Infamous Robert E. Lee Statue May Go to a Black History Museum

The Virginia governor and Richmond mayor announced a tentative agreement to transfer the massive statue to the local Black History Museum and Cultural Center.

by Hakim Bishara

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The graffiti-covered base of the removed Robert E. Lee confederate statue in Richmond, Virginia (photo by Will Fisher via Flickr)

Since it was removed last September, the equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia, has been kept in storage, with questions lingering over its fate. That is until December 30, 2021, when Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced a tentative agreement to transfer the massive statue, together with the city’s other removed Confederate monuments, to the local Black History Museum and Cultural Center.

According to the plan, the Black History Museum would work with the Valentine, Richmond’s oldest museum, to gather input from the local community on how the Lee statue and eight other removed Confederate monuments should be displayed.

“Entrusting the future of these monuments and pedestals to two of our most respected institutions is the right thing to do,” Stoney said, as reported by the Associated Press.

The proposal will be brought for a vote in Richmond’s city council later in January. If approved, it would include the 40-foot-tall granite pedestal that held Lee’s 21-foot statue, and which has become a prominent site for anti-racist public artwork and graffiti. Work to remove the pedestal began in December, so far revealing two time capsules that had been buried beneath the statue.

Earlier in December, Virginia’s city of Charlottesville announced that it would melt down its removed Robert E. Lee statue and recast it into a new public artwork. The project will be led by the city’s Jefferson School African American Heritage Center.

“This is really not about erasing history,” the center’s executive director, Andrea Douglas, told NPR. “It’s about taking history and moving forward.”

Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital… More by Hakim Bishara


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