Stars and Stripes stripes.com 23 Dec, 2020 03:15 am

Robert E. Lee statue from Capitol will become a museum exhibit of changing attitudes on race

Robert E. Lee statue from Capitol will become a museum exhibit of changing attitudes on race
Robert E. Lee's 700-pound likeness left the grandeur of the U.S. Capitol and landed here Tuesday morning as workers rolled the statue off a truck and left it supine, on a wooden pallet, in storage space at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.

It seems destined instead for an exhibit that looks critically at Lee's place in the national and Southern psyche — from the "lost cause" mythology that rewarded the leader of an armed rebellion with a perch in Congress's National Statuary Hall to the recent racial reckoning that triggered the statue's retreat to Richmond.Created by Richmond sculptor Edward Virginius Valentine, the Lee bronze had stood since 1909 in Statuary Hall, where every state gets two statues.Lee was a controversial pick when the General Assembly voted in 1903 to make him one of the state's two honorees in Statuary Hall.Talkov said the exhibit will tell that story — "and then the story of the intervening 100-plus years that brought us to the point we're at today, where the commonwealth decided that they did not want Lee to represent the commonwealth of Virginia at Statuary Hall.

There was pushback from both the Richmond Planet, a Black newspaper, and Union veterans who'd fought against Lee, Talkov said.The Greater Richmond Transit Authority has said it would consider giving a piece to the museum, but it has to keep the vehicle intact until an insurance settlement is worked out, Talkov said.

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