Virginia’s statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee was removed from the United States Capitol. A representative from the governor’s office was present for the removal along with U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Richmond, according to a release from Gov. Ralph Northam.
Each state is entitled to display two statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection, and for 111 years, the Confederate statue has stood along with America’s first president George Washington as Virginia’s contributions. The two statues were added in 1909, which was 44 years after the Confederacy rebelled against the United States and was defeated. The Lee statue had been one among 13 located in the Crypt of the Capitol, representing the 13 original colonies.
“We should all be proud of this important step forward for our Commonwealth and our country,” said Northam. “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.”
The General Assembly must approve the replacement before a sculptor can be commissioned. If approved, Johns would complement the statue of Washington, and would be the only teenager represented in the collection. Governor Northam has introduced a budget that includes $500,000 to replace the statue.