Monument Avenue for real heroes

8/11/2017, 12:18 p.m.

The Monument Avenue Commission has only just begun its work, but the fix is in.

Apparently, the commission has been hamstrung by its charge from Mayor Levar M. Stoney to put the monuments “in context.”

The commission now believes it can only put up signs trying to explain the statues of racist, traitorous Confederates along Monument Avenue or add statues of true heroes to counteract their negative public message and imprint. 

The real question before the people in this city is whether we want to remember history or continue a perverted reverence to certain parts of it.

The statues on Monument Avenue were erected long after the Civil War by white supremacists in reverence to those who created bloody havoc in this nation in order to keep black people inhumanely in bondage. For decades, Richmond was the epicenter of misery. The city was one of the largest slave markets in the South, where untold thousands of people were bought and sold like cattle. And it was the command post for a rebel government that was hell bent on maintaining that social order, even in the face of years of grisly warfare.

For Richmond to continue to venerate the statues to Confederate warmongers Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis and Matthew Fontaine Maury is like Nigeria putting up statues to a defeated Boko Haram to honor its twisted view of what the social order should be. There is nothing to celebrate — only something to deeply contemplate so that the sins, stains and pain of the past are not repeated.

We don’t want the Monument Avenue Commission’s efforts to become a dunderheaded exercise in maintaining the status quo in Richmond. Nor should the commission have been crippled from the start by Mayor Stoney, who also packed the panel with representatives from the private University of Richmond, while no academics from Virginia Union University, Virginia Commonwealth University, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College or Virginia State University are at the table.

What voices will this commission be listening to? What voices will it hear?

We repeat our call that the statues should be moved — to any number of historic Civil War battlefields around Virginia or to museums — if they are to be put “in context.” Leave Monument Avenue open for statues to real heroes.

The commission and Mayor Stoney need to hear from the people — all of the people — of Richmond.

Let the commission know what you think by registering your thoughts online at www.Monument AvenueCommission.org/input and by attending a commission meeting. The next public forum is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, at the Virginia Historical Society, 428 N. Boulevard.