Let the future begin | Richmond Free Press

We salute the foresight and action of outgoing Governor Ralph S. Northam and Mayor of Richmond Levar M. Stoney in relation to the enormous stone pedestal left on Monument Avenue after the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The governor announced earlier this week that the graffiti-tagged pedestal would be removed before he leaves office on January 15, and the circle of land on which he stands will be returned to city ownership, as the ‘asked the mayor.

We are encouraged by this turn of events. Here’s why:

The removal of the pedestal and the transfer of the land to the city of Richmond complicates the task of the new Republican administration, led by Governor-elect and Trump’s sidekick Glenn A. Youngkin and the Johnny Reb, the white supremacist forces in the within the new republican. controlled the House of Delegates to try to put the statue of Lee back in place.

It is important that our current leaders prevent this small patch of grass on Monument Avenue from becoming the next Civil War battleground.

We see anti-Black and anti-colored people across Virginia and the nation stand up against the teaching of the truth about America’s unflattering past. We are in the midst of a backlash – or “blacklash” – against the gains blacks, Latinos and other marginalized groups have made in this nation in voting rights, equal rights, human rights. gay men and women’s rights guaranteed by the Constitution. We are seeing an increase in hate groups and the use of the Confederate flag.

It is no exaggeration to believe that these elements – in their new control over the state government – would push to return the state-owned statue of Lee to what they see as its “rightful place” on the site. city. The return of the statue would be a symbol for white supremacists and haters across the country they control and the clock will be set back to what they see as a less threatening way of life.

We would not be surprised if a legislative attempt was made to return the smaller statues of Confederates and segregationists to the halls and grounds of the State Capitol building. Republicans may have the votes to do it, but it will be more difficult to restore the statue of Lee if the pedestal is gone and the land on Monument Avenue no longer belongs to the state.

We were happy to get rid of the 12-ton, 21-foot-tall giant of a statue erected in 1890 to honor a white supremacist and traitor who led an army in a bloody war against the United States in an effort to keep blacks in human slavery in Virginia and the South.

The statue of Lee was there to remind everyone – especially black people – of the surviving social order that relegated people of color to subordinate and unequal status in the former Confederacy capital, despite the fact that the South lost the civil war.

As the 40-foot-tall, graffiti-marked granite pedestal has become a rich and important symbol of psychological freedom and change during social justice protests following the death of George Floyd in May 2020 at the hands of Minneapolis Police , let this space on Monument Avenue be stripped of any tangible symbol of a racist and nefarious past.

Let people find a more egalitarian, appropriate, unifying, and forward-thinking way of using public space that will uplift everyone. Let the future begin.

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