Virginia’s outgoing Democratic Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney have reached an agreement with the city of Richmond for the transfer of Confederate monuments to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.
Northam and Stoney announced the deal Thursday, saying in their statement that the transfer would include the Richmond statue of General Robert E. Lee and its 40-foot pedestal. The pedestal has not yet been removed, and it has been vandalized with “Black Lives Matter” graffiti. Northam said that the pedestal covered with paint has “special significance” as a work of art.
The statement said that the Black History Museum would work with other local organizations to determine the fate of the pieces in the collection being transferred.
Northam said that the state’s most prominent symbols have “for too long” stood for the side that fought to keep slavery alive. He said that it will now be up to the “thoughtful museums” to decide the future of the memorials.
The Richmond City Council must still approve the agreement, and the mayor said he would present it to them later this month. He noted that turning control of the monuments over to the museum is “the right thing to do,” adding that he believes it will take the time to involve the public in decisions about what to do with the monuments.
Along with the Lee statue and pedestal, other monuments being transferred include those honoring Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis, and Confederate Soldiers and Sailors as a group.
The monuments were removed from their places of public display according to an order issued by Stoney during the Black Lives Matter riots following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Since their removal, the statues have been stored in various locations and are now undisclosed. They have been held at least part of the time since their removal at Richmond’s wastewater treatment plant.