A statue of Confederate Gen Robert E Lee, which represented the state of Virginia in the United States Capitol Building’s “crypt,” was removed in the early hours of December 21, officials said.
Virginia Gov Ralph Northam said the statue was one of two that represented his state in the National Statuary Hall Collection, along with America’s first president George Washington, in the rotunda.
“We should all be proud of this important step forward for our Commonwealth and our country,” Governor Northam said in a statement announcing the removal. “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.”
He said the statue was expected to be replaced by a tribute honoring civil rights activist Barbara Rose Johns.
In response to the removal, US Representatives Donald McEachin and Jennifer Wexton of Virginia released a statement calling it a “historic and long-overdue moment for our Commonwealth,” and said the statue “honors a legacy of division, oppression, and racism — a dark period in the history of our Commonwealth and our country.”
The removal came in a year where statues and monuments of historical figures associated with racial injustice were taken down in many US states. Credit: Sheldon Whitehouse via Storyful