Commission holds public meeting about Monument Avenue statues - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Commission holds public meeting about Monument Avenue statues

Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue (Source: NBC12) Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue (Source: NBC12)
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

The Monument Avenue Commission heard from residents on Wednesday on what should be done with the city's Confederate monuments.

Mayor Levar Stoney created the commission in hopes of adding more context to the monuments and maybe even some new statues. He says the goal is not to tear the current monuments down.

"It's our time. It's our responsibility to set the historical record straight on Monument Avenue's Confederate statuary," Stoney said in June. 

The NAACP released a statement saying they "believe in the full restoration, and resurrection of cultural appreciation of all those who cultivated, and worked to contribute to the greatness of [the] city."

In order to create a more united Richmond, we believe in the full restoration, and resurrection of cultural appreciation of all those who cultivated, and worked to contribute to the greatness of this city. We are in support of a more balanced history to be depicted on Monument Avenue where the legacy of all Virginians should be honored. We also support the action to create more statues, parks, and street names to honor the history of African Americans and Native Americans throughout the city of Richmond, including on North 25th Street, Broad Street, Nine Mile Road, Chamberlayne Avenue, Brook Road, Jefferson Davis Highway, Midlothian Turnpike and Hull Street.

On Wednesday, hundreds lined up at the Virginia Historical Society to get a chance to speak, with a commissioner pulling numbers at random to select those who could come to the mic.

The conversation focuses on what to do with the past for future generation, and the Virginia Historical Society set the scene for the present day conversation on what to do with Richmond's Confederate monuments.

"I'm against erasing history in Richmond and support Mayor Stoney in adding context," said one speaker.

Context and symbolism were at the center of the conversation.

"They should come down. There's nothing heroic, and it is painful," said another speaker.

"In nowhere in there does it say slavery, racism or white supremacy," said a third speaker.

"These monuments are atrocities and celebrations of torture and death," said a fourth speaker.

Others argued the cause of the Civil War.

"Can we forget the suffering of the Confederate Army, who fought so gallantly and the 250,000 soldiers who lost their lives fighting for a cause they believed in?" asked one person.

"Some signage doesn't cut it. There would be a constant reminder of the error of slavery and the war fought to perpetuate these atrocities," said another.

While the mayor says he's not going to tear them down, speakers still discussed it.

"If you tear down these statues, you're not discussing, you're suppressing a side of it," said one speaker.

"Now is the time for us to put the past in the past and tear down the participation trophies for the losing side of the war. You lost! Get over it already!" said another.

Others suggested monuments to add.

"We should have another avenue to honor African Americans. I think the Boulevard would be great for that," said one person.

Speakers on both sides argued about the statues currently standing

"These Confederate generals should be honored, not looked at as a symbol of racism and white supremacy," said another.

"Presently, we are sitting here as our armed forces are deployed all over the world, in harms way, debating if we should remove statues of domestic terrorists," said another speaker.

The Virginia Historical Society will host another public input meeting on Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m. for you to voice your opinion.

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