RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia and The Valentine are asking for the public’s opinion on what to do with Richmond’s Confederate statues.
Nine Confederate statues were donated to the Black History Museum last year, with five of them once standing tall on Monument Avenue. The Black History Museum is working with The Valentine to find the best way to create social value from the monuments, which the Black History Museum said is “essential to overcoming the racism and discrimination they helped perpetuate.”
At the removal of the Lee Monument, one of the most well-known and largest of the statues previously displayed on Monument Avenue, former Gov. Ralph Northam said, “It is time to display history as history, and use the public memorials to honor the full and inclusive truth of who we are today and in the future.”
A recently-released design plan for the space where the Lee Monument used to stand includes a community space filled with colorful plants, small trees and grasses.
“We are committed to ensuring the origin of these objects and their purpose are never forgotten: that is the glorification of those who led the fight to enslave African Americans and destroy the Union,” the Black History Museum wrote online. “We are likewise committed to the opportunities these monuments and our work related to them create: the opportunity to use the monuments as tools for education, healing, and reconciliation as we deepen our understanding of an essential element of the American story: the expansion of freedom.”
The Black History Museum opened a survey on its website so that community members can anonymously share their input. Survey questions include the user’s age, ethnicity, familiarity with The Lost Cause, relationship with Richmond’s public art related to the Confederacy and The Lost Cause, interest in Richmond’s history during The Lost Cause period and more.
The Valentine also opened a survey on its website for the community to give feedback on what should happen to Richmond’s statues and pedestals removed in 2020 and 2021, with options such as put in storage, reinstalling them, donating them, reusing the metal and stone for public art, destroying them entirely and more.