The Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, is set to come down today. I happened to be passing through the city on Tuesday, so I swung by Lee Circle for one last look.
You can watch a livestream of the statue’s removal through Virginia Public Media. (I pass this along for those who wish to watch as eyewitness of history, not as an endorsement or repudiation of the events themselves.)
In June 2020, I went to Richmond in the wake of protests in support of racial justice that evolved into protests against the city’s Confederate monument. You can read my account here and you can watch the short video I did on the ECW YouTube page.
You can see some of ECW’s other coverage of Monument Avenue-related topics here.
If you search “monuments” in the ECW archives, you’ll see extensive coverage of the topic from a variety of perspectives. Poke around. I hope you’ll find articles that give you something to think about, regardless of where your opinion falls on the matter.
Lee has been the subject of particular controversy of late, not just because of the statue but because of historian Ty Seidule’s recent book Robert E. Lee and Me. The book, which I read last spring, gave me a lot to think about. Patrick Young also mentioned Seidule’s work in a roundup of Reconstruction-related books last May. Internally, Seidule’s book promoted a lot of discussion among ECW’s contributors, although no one else chose to write about it.
The Lee Statue, sculpted in bronze by Antonin Mercié, was dedicated on May 29, 1890, at a cost of about $52,000. It was the first of several statues of Confederate figures placed along what became Monument Avenue. Most of the statues were removed last year; the Lee statue is the last remaining monument.