7/9/2020, 6 p.m.
Four of the five statues of Confederates are now gone from Monument Avenue.
And good riddance!
Removal of these symbols of racism and oppression has brought a sense of liberation to the city, with people now flocking to Monument Avenue and enjoying the green space like we have never seen before.
It is remarkable that others are finally seeing what we, at the Free Press, have long known — that the larger-than-life statues honoring men who fought a bloody war against the U.S. government to keep Black people in human bondage stifle the spirit and psyche of all of us and leave our city branded a place mired in the past.
Confederate Robert E. Lee is the last Confederate loser left on Monument Avenue, his 12-ton statue caught in a legal battle to keep the “Lost Cause” alive.
When Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley B. Cavedo or another judge decides to remove his Confederate blindfold and dismiss the cases, Richmond will finally be free of this nonsense. We can start to re-imagine Monument Avenue as a promenade that is inviting and welcoming to everyone. We also can begin to think about new symbols to place on the avenue that reflect the broader and more inclusive place Richmond has become and to inspire young people who are our future.
We believe it’s time for other racist remnants of the Confederacy to go — school names, team names, street and bridge names and military base names that honor a shameful and dishonorable past.
Raymond H. Boone Sr., the late Free Press founder and publisher, long advocated for the Washington NFL team to change its racist name. He told readers in an October 2013 editorial that the newspaper would no longer use the name in its news and editorial columns because it was both insulting to Native Americans and divisive.
While it has taken corporate interests such as FedEx and Nike to put the squeeze on team owner Daniel Snyder, we are buoyed by the fact that right-minded people are coming around to seeing these racist monikers for what they are and are pushing for their elimination.
Honoring racists and using derogatory names prevents us from achieving our highest potential. Of course, President Trump has vowed to block efforts to remove Confederate names from U.S. military bases and to protect federal statues honoring racists Confederates.
We know from his own words that President Trump is a white supremacist. But we can’t fathom how he and his cadre of followers who claim to be true American patriots want to protect monuments and names that honor traitors to the nation they claim to love.
This hypocrisy has to end. So does the honoring of traitors and racists by placing their names and likenesses in public spaces. Let’s continue moving swiftly to remove these accolades to the dishonorable so we can get on with the tougher work of breaking down the systems of inequality and inequity that keep people in chains.