Former Governor Harry Byrd, Sr. Statue Removed from Virginia Capitol


The statue of former Governor and U.S. Senator Harry Byrd, Sr., was removed from Virginia’s Capitol Square on Wednesday. Byrd was a renowned Democratic politician who helped stimulate economic growth and a better road network. But he’s more well-known for orchestrating efforts to fight integrating Virginia’s schools despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk) introduced the legislation to remove the statue of the segregationist.

“Today is surreal,” Jones tweeted. “I’m thinking of my grandfather who spent his life fighting Massive Resistance and my dad and uncle who integrated a school against Harry Byrd’s wishes. Days like these make me reflective but incredibly hopeful for our way forward and telling our true history.”

Jones’ HB 2208 received limited support from House of Delegate Republicans, but it passed the Senate with just three Republicans in opposition.

“It is my deep belief that monuments to segregation, massive resistance, and the segregation of one race below another only serve as a reminder to the overt and institutional racism that has and continues to plague our commonwealth,” Jones said in the Rules committee on January 22.

In Senate debate in February, Senator Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier) argued for keeping the statue.

“Certainly, the great stain on Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr.’s career was when this country was being ripped apart by segregation. He was an advocate of massive resistance, and that is a great stain on his career, and a great embarrassment,” she said.

However, Vogel said that everyone is the sum of their good and bad parts. “He was a man of a certain time and a certain era,” she said.

On Wednesday, Senator David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke) tweeted, “65 years ago Harry Byrd called for ‘Massive Resistance’ to school integration. His shameful acts cost thousands of Virginians their education. Today his statue was removed. Everyday we should work to improve all Virginians’ opportunities.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Network.  Email tips to [email protected].








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