RICHMOND, VA — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced plans to remove Confederate monuments in Virginia's capitol. Virginia Democrats from across the Commonwealth praised the decision to remove the monuments as important steps towards fighting institutional racism and oppression.
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, made up of 23 members of the Virginia General Assembly issued the following statement:
The announcement of plans to remove the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue is a step in the right direction in the continued fight to address institutional racism, systemic disparities, and remaining vestiges of Jim Crow in our Commonwealth. These confederate monuments are a symbol of racism, oppression, and hate.
“These structural and monumental symbols have been extremely offensive to Black America and others,” said Delegate Delores McQuinn (D-70th). “This monument represented a lost cause. An inhumane cause. And I stand with the Governor for taking down a symbol that has been so offensive and so hurtful. The next generation will now be free from having to see it, no longer having to wonder why Virginia would allow it to continue to stand tall when it does not represent the New Virginia or Virginians who have worked diligently to make progress in our Commonwealth and work toward making sure that we are one Virginia.”
The long overdue removal of the Lee statue is an important step towards honestly and clearly addressing our Commonwealth’s and our country’s past. This removal was an answer to the countless calls from our Virginia communities, our members, and many others to take Virginia into a new, more just tomorrow. It coincides with similar actions, such as with the removal of the confederate statue at Appomattox in Alexandria and with plans to remove the Fredericksburg slave auction block this month. In addition, we must continue to focus on creating a better future by dismantling the systemic racism that still exists across our institutions.
“This is just the start of what is needed,” said Chairman Lamont Bagby (D-74th). “I’m pleased to see it removed. It’s disappointing it took so long. The Lee statue was a constant reminder to Black Virginians of racism, dehumanization, and hate that exists and was prevalent throughout our history. As we continue to tear down symbols of hate, let us now build up institutions and systems of justice and equity.”As a part of this ongoing racial justice effort, we must listen to and work with our communities across the Commonwealth to make a significant structural change to address injustice, racism, and discrimination.
DPVA Chair Susan Swecker added:
Governor Northam’s decision to remove the Robert E. Lee statue on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, which stands on state land, is the result of decades of work from the community and our Black leaders. I’m overcome with pride and emotion to see this symbol of hatred and enslavement removed from its place of undeserved glory.
I’m eager to follow the lead of our Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, Mayor Stoney, and others and listen to the voices of our community members as we determine the future of these monuments in our capitol city and across the Commonwealth. We will take this time to be introspective and commit to tangible ways to improve how Democrats serve and uplift the Black community of our beloved Commonwealth.
Seeing so many people marching with conviction to peacefully denounce the longstanding and devastating police brutality, murder, and misconduct that has harmed our vulnerable communities has been heartening and gives me hope for our future. While removing this monument and others like it is a significant change, it’s just the first step towards correcting the many injustices Americans have been speaking out against. These issues go hand in hand, and DPVA is committed to listening, learning, and fighting for a better tomorrow.
Senator Tim Kaine:
Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-3):
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring:
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (VA-10):