Charlottesville, Virginia officially removed the statues of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on Saturday.
Crowds gathered behind lines of fencing to watch the removal of these statues. “They took these statues down in about four hours but it took us five years of legal battles, direct action, all of this to say that these things were harmful and wrong,” said Charlottesville resident, Lisa Woolfork. She went on to say, “a burden has been lifted from these parks and this community.”
Charlottesville mayor, Nikuyah Walker, gave a speech early this morning as the removal process began in front of the Robert E Lee statue. “Taking down this statue is one small step closer to the goal of helping Charlottesville, Virginia, and America grapple with the sin of being willing to destroy Black people for economic gain,” she said.
The Charlottesville statues of Lee and Jackson were put up in the early 1920s, as they were then welcomed with lavish ceremonies and Confederate veteran reunions. Over one hundred years later, there were once again chants and cheers filling the air around these statues, only this time it was in celebration of their removal.
Zyahna Bryant, a current student at the University of Virginia, created a petition for the removal of the Lee statue and the renaming of the Lee park, back in 2016 as a high schooler. Bryant Tweeted on Saturday, “My work here is done.” As the Lee Park is now the Market Street Park and the Lee statue has been taken down.
Saturday’s removals came almost four years after the “Unite the Right” extremist rally, where white supremacists protested in Charlottesville against the proposed removal of the Robert E. Lee statue. With the elimination of a symbol associated with years of hatred and civil upheaval, Charlottesville has taken a momentous step forward towards a stronger and more united community.