Statue to segregationist removed from Richmond’s Capitol Square

Harry F. Byrd monument is no more
Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 3:19 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2021 at 3:00 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The statue of the man at the heart of massive resistance to integrating Virginia schools is no more in Richmond. Democrat Harry F. Byrd may have defined politics in Virginia for decades, but no more says one state delegate.

“My father was denied entry to his local neighborhood school because of the color of his skin, massive resistance in its peak,” said Del. Jay Jones, (D) Virginia Beach.

Delegate Jones, who led this removal effort, says Byrd was a historical figure, but for all the wrong reasons. The former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator spearheaded efforts to keep schools segregated following the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954, even shutting down entire school systems to prevent black students from attending.

“The architect of massive resistance and someone who is an arch segregationist. Someone who wouldn’t like the fact that I get to serve in the House of Delegates, that so many members who look like me have the power and the clout that we do to reverse the things he was trying to do,” said Del. Jones.

Crews with the department of general services removed the statue, its pedestal and other remnants Wednesday morning. It took a few hours to take down what went up in 1976.

“We talk about being inclusive and we talk about embracing diversity and we really had to put our money where our mouths are and do the right thing,” said Governor Ralph Northam, (D) Virginia.

The statue along with the granite base and other items from here are in storage until the general assembly decides what to do with them.

As Byrd comes down, plans are coming together for another monument in Richmond. Excavation work is underway for the “Emancipation Proclamation and Freedom Monument” on Brown’s Island dedicated to the emancipation of enslaved Africans. It should be completed by September.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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