RICHMOND, Va. -- Crews on Wednesday are scheduled to take down the Confederate monument General Robert E. Lee statue after it has towered over Richmond for more than a century.
Dr. Rob Havers, president and CEO of the American Civil War Museum on Tredegar Street in Richmond, called the statue’s pending removal “tremendously impactful.”
“The impact of the Civil War, although it was fought 150 years ago, is with us to this very day,” Havers explained. “We are witnessing another act in the Civil War with the Robert E. Lee statue coming down and it’s happening in 2021 in Richmond.”
Havers described the Civil War as one of the defining events in American history. Richmond played a pivotal role as the former capital of the Confederacy. Children of Confederate soldiers would then erect these monuments across the country decades after Confederate troopers surrendered to the Union.
The six-story Lee statue on Monument Avenue, erected in 1890, would stay up for more than 130 years.
“Generations of Richmonders have grown up with these statues being ever-present. Many have thought it was a great thing and many have thought it was not a great thing. They will no longer be there after tomorrow so it’s a new chapter for Richmond, undoubtedly,” Havers stated.
The state announced the statue's removal will happen on Wednesday, September 8. The announcement came less than a week after the Virginia Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the state could remove the statue.
Havers will dispatch his employees to witness the statue’s removal in person on Wednesday.
“We are actually sending several of our curatorial team down there to document what’s happening and see if there’s any immediate pieces we might take and bring to the museum,” he said.
Once the statue leaves, the pedestal will remain for the foreseeable future as the state and the community will decide its future.
“There are a couple of plaques that sit on the pedestal right now that we would like to display in the museum as part of a sort of entree to this bigger discussion about: Where did the monuments come from? Why were they put up? Why did they stay up? Why have they now in 2021 come down?” Havers stated.
After the statue comes down, Dr. Havers encourages families to visit the museum and continue learning about our history.
“I think it’s a wonderful teaching moment and a great opportunity for an institution like ours that really does tell a very broad Civil War story,” he said.
Colleagues at the American Civil War Museum, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Library of Virginia and Valentine Museum in Richmond also collaborated on a comprehensive website exhibition detailing the history of Monument Avenue.