156 years after Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, a bronze statue of his likeness has finally been removed in Charlottesville.
The history-making moment occurred Saturday morning, July 10, and comes nearly four years after the violent events at a “Unite the Right” rally that happened in the city and left counter-protester Heather Heyer dead.
“Taking down this statue is one small step closer to the goal of helping Charlottesville, Virginia, and America, grapple with the sin of being willing to destroy Black people for economic gain,” Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker said as a crane neared the monument.
In addition to General Lee, the statue of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson has also been removed. Both will remain on city property until officials determine what to do with them. There are at least 10 groups that are interested in procuring the statues.
Zyahna Bryant was only a high school student when she pushed to have the Lee monument removed in 2016. Her petition, albeit successful, caused white supremacists to quickly file a lawsuit which caused the city to put the removal plans on hold.
“This is well overdue,” said Bryant, now a student at the University of Virginia. “No platform for white supremacy. No platform for racism. No platform for hate.”
The Jackson statue was originally installed in 1921, while the Lee statue went up in 1924. Philanthropist Paul McIntire paid for both statues. Local activists have spent years highlighting how the statues were erected as part of the Jim Crow era in the 1920s and that they represented an attack on Virginia’s Black residents.
A coalition of activists commended the city for moving quickly to take the statues down.
Watch the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue, below, and read reactions from the online activist community.