‘We are living history’: Crowds come out to see Maury statue removed

Updated: Jul. 2, 2020 at 6:17 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Opinions vary on whether the Confederate monuments should go, but no one can disagree that what is happening is historic.

For many people, that’s certainly the big reason why they are going to Monument Avenue to watch.

“It’s kind of poetic that it’s being done the first, second and third of July leading up to the Fourth of July,” one man said.

“This is history. This is history right now,” Corey Goss said.

Crowds of people came to watch crews remove the statue of Matthew Fontaine Maury, which was erected on Nov. 11, 1929.

“This is change. We are living history, and it’s different. I don’t think any of us thought we would see this,” one man said.

It wasn’t the hundreds of people seen Wednesday surrounding Stonewall Jackson but there was a decent-sized crowd who came to see Maury unseated from his pedestal.

“You could feel the burden in the crowd go ‘wow,’ and it was a relief,” one man said.

“I was on my five-mile walk when I saw the city setting up to block the street off,” Novita Hickman said.

Like many others, Hickman grabbed a chair and watched the monument come down.

“It’s a monumental day in our city and I’m happy to see them come down,” Hickman said.

It was a day filled with personal memories for Teresa Zimmerman.

“You drive along these streets, and this is the street where we knew we didn’t belong here,” Zimmerman said.

In 1968, Zimmerman was chosen to come with some with her classmates to take a picture in front of the monument.

Her school, Maury Elementary, had recently been desegregated.

“When it came out in the newspaper, you knew it was a black person but you didn’t know who I was,” Zimmerman said.

As she takes pictures 52 years later at the monument, she’s taken back to when she was an elementary school girl.

“It’s so moving for me to come here and take a picture in front of the statue wearing a hat where I can be recognizable,” Zimmerman said.

Many say they have ideas for the spaces.

“Growing up here in Richmond, I hope they turn into fountains. Make them as big as they can. One for the kids and the other for the adults,” one man said.

“It would be great to display art from other people in the city,” Hickman said.

The globe on top was not removed. Crews say that will remain for now.

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