A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was removed from the U.S. capitol Monday morning.
The statue, which has stood with America’s first president, George Washington, was removed by staff from the Architect of the Capitol and attended by members of Virginia’s congressional delegation including Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), and a representative from the office of Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.).
The statue will be relocated to the Virginia Museum of History & Culture. But Gov. Northam said the state will seek to have it replaced with a statue of civil rights icon Barbara Johns.
“We should all be proud of this important step forward for our Commonwealth and our country,” Northam said. “The Confederacy is a symbol of Virginia’s racist and divisive history, and it is past time we tell our story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion. I look forward to seeing a trailblazing young woman of color represent Virginia in the U.S. Capitol, where visitors will learn about Barbara Johns’ contributions to America and be empowered to create positive change in their communities just like she did.”
In recent years, social justice activists and some politicians have called for the removal of Confederate statues nationwide, saying they glorify racism and intolerance. The deadly 2017 clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va., came after a statue of Lee was removed there.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death this summer, calls to remove Confederate statues were renewed.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the development “welcome news.”
“The Congress will continue our work to rid the Capitol of homages to hate, as we fight to end the scourge of racism in our country,” she said in a statement. “There is no room for celebrating the bigotry of the Confederacy in the Capitol or any other place of honor in our country.”