Mayor forms commission to 'redefine false narrative' of Monument Avenue statues

Published: Jun. 22, 2017 at 5:16 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2017 at 6:21 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced Thursday the formation of the Monument Avenue Commission to "help the city redefine the false narrative of the Confederate statues that line Richmond's greatest boulevard."

"It was nostalgia masquerading as history,” said Stoney, of the Confederate statues along Monument Avenue. "It's our time. It's our responsibility to set the historical record straight on Monument Avenue's confederate statuary."

Stoney says the monuments are not coming down. However, the commission will be tasked with getting public input on ideas "how to best tell the real story of our monuments."

One idea is to add new markers to Monument Avenue, giving the broader scope of history, that includes the suffering and contribution of African Americans. The commission will also explore the possibility of adding new monuments to Monument Avenue, featuring some of Richmond's most important historic black figures.

"I think we should consider what Monument Avenue would look like with a more diversity," the mayor said, saying that Arthur Ashe "is the only true champion on that street.

Christy Coleman, CEO of the American Civil War Museum, and Greg Kimball, director of Education and Outreach for the Library of Virginia, will serve as the Monument Avenue Commission co-chairs.

While running for mayor last year, Stoney had said the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue required context, such as who built them and why they were built.

"The best way to change hearts is to educate minds," he said. "It is my belief that without telling the whole story, these monuments constitute a default endorsement of a shameful period in our nation and our city."

The mayor's Monument Avenue Commission will hold two public meetings by the end of September, and take community input through a new online website, The committee is to report its recommendations to the mayor by the end of November.

Stoney is not calling for the Confederate monuments to come down. "Whether we like it or not, they are part of the history of our city. And removal would never wash away that stain."

The Virginia Flaggers, a group opposed to the changes, says Virginia law prohibits altering war memorials. Members of the group say they'll vigorously defend the monuments.

"Adding context? I mean, there is no false narrative. These people [Confederate veterans] defended Virginia like they were asked by the governor," said Grayson Jennings, a member of the group.

"I'm just as insulted by those statues as anyone else. But what I'm most insulted by is the fact that those statues currently stand up there without telling an ounce of the truth," said Stoney.

For more information and to give input on the project, visit,

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