Agreement: Richmond’s Confederate monuments headed to Black History Museum

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 9:12 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 30, 2021 at 6:54 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Ownership of Richmond’s Confederate monuments will be transferred to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, according to an agreement reached by city and state officials.

According to a Thursday release from the City of Richmond, the transfer will include the state-owned Robert E. Lee statue and pedestal, along with all other Confederate statues and their pedestals that have already been removed.

Here’s a list of Confederate monuments being transferred:

  • Robert E. Lee
  • J.E.B. Stuart
  • Stonewall Jackson
  • Jefferson Davis
  • Matthew Fontaine Maury
  • Joseph Bryan, Fitzhugh Lee
  • Confederate Soldier and Sailors, and ceremonial cannon

The transfer does not include A.P. Hill, who is buried under his monument, as discussions with his descendants continue about the relocation of his remains.

Greg Werkheiser, a founding partner of Cultural Heritage Partners, advisors to the Black History Museum and the Valentine, said this immediate transfer doesn’t include the two time capsules found in the Lee monument.

“The Department of Historic Resources is still figuring out exactly what’s in them, how to preserve them,” Werkheiser said. “That process is going to take some time, so no one is ready to decide just yet what happens to those.”

Werkheiser said the Black History Museum plans to partner with The Valentine and other cultural institutions in Richmond to manage a multi-year, community-driven process to determine the future use of each collection piece.

“Those institutions can also help engage their visitors and the general public in a real robust dialogue,” Werkheiser said. “Putting them in a museum context really opens up the opportunity to continue to use them as teaching tools, but to teach an accurate history instead of an oppressive one.”

Werkheiser adds the museums will find creative ways to get this community feedback.

“I think the institutions want to reach out to individuals who might be attending other events, who might be attending tours of the institutions,” he said.

Bill Martin, director of The Valentine, said their goal is to engage the community as much as possible.

“We want to make sure this is a deeply engaged process,” he said.

Richmond City Councilwoman Katherine Jordan, who represents the city’s 2nd district, supports the plan for the ownership transfer.

“When I do hear comments about the statutory, there has been the question of, ‘Do these statues and pedestals have more stories to tell?’” she said. “And you know perhaps the best thing isn’t to give them away outside the city because there’s more learning to do.”

In January, mayor Stoney will seek support from Richmond City Council to accept the property and transfer ownership of the monument to the museum, along with city-owned Confederate statues removed to date and their now-unoccupied pedestals, which are in the process of being removed.

Stoney spoke about the transfer of Richmond’s Confederate monuments.

“Entrusting the future of these monuments and pedestals to two of our most respected institutions is the right thing to do,” Stoney said.

Governor Northam also spoke about this agreement.

“Symbols matter, and for too long, Virginia’s most prominent symbols celebrated our country’s tragic division and the side that fought to keep alive the institution of slavery by any means possible,” Northam said.

Richmond City Council will also hold a special meeting on Jan. 3 to introduce a resolution about accepting a donation of personal property including the Robert E. Lee statue, pedestal blocks, and associated artifacts, valued at $12 million from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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