Charlottesville, Virginia – The City of Charlottesville removed two famous Confederate statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on Saturday. Workers began removing Lee shortly after 7 a.m. to a moderately sized crowd, but more people arrived later in the morning to see Jackson lifted off his pedestal and driven to storage. In a special meeting afterwards, the city council also approved removing Charlottesville’s Lewis, Clark, and Sacajawea statue; workers removed that statue after the meeting.
“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 in a speech before the monuments came down, according to The Associated Press.
A new report on the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) says the school has refused to change or question traditions and that “racial and gender disparities persist.” Recommendations include a call for accountability from the General Assembly; increasing diversity in leadership and corps; adjusting institutes and traditions; tempering associations between the school, the Civil War, and the Confederacy; addressing racist and sexist speech and actions; improving transparency; celebrating other cultures; and addressing tensions between athletes and non-athletes.
The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled Thursday that Charlottesville can remove a statue of Robert E. Lee and a statue of Stonewall Jackson from its parks. In February 2017, the city chose to remove the Lee statue, triggering a lawsuit. Then, in the wake of the violent Unite the Right rally, the city reaffirmed its decision to remove the Lee statue and to remove the Jackson statue as well, according to court documents.
The Virginia Military Institute’s Board of Visitors has unanimously voted to remove the school’s Stonewall Jackson statue from campus.
The move comes after Kaleb Tucker and other black alumni started a campaign for the statue’s removal, citing racism at the institute experienced by black cadets. The board concurred on forming a diversity office and diversity and inclusion panel, The Washington Post reported.