Statue of Robert E Lee in Richmond, Virginia surrounded by crowd.

Statue of Robert E Lee in Richmond, Virginia.

Monuments to the Confederacy Removed Across the State and Nation

A number of monuments and memorials have been removed, or plans to remove them are now underway, due to nationwide protests against racism. Many of these were in NC cities and towns.

Statue of Robert E Lee in Richmond, Virginia surrounded by crowd.
Statue of Robert E Lee surrounded by protestors in Richmond, Virginia.

Some of the monuments have been the subject of lengthy, years-long efforts to remove them, sometimes involving legislation and/or court proceedings. In some cases the removal was official; in others, most notably in Alabama, laws prohibiting their removal were deliberately broken.

Efforts first focused on monuments to the Confederate States of America, its leaders, and its military. In addition to removing statues and murals, numerous schools and buildings were renamed. The US Navy and US Marines has announced they were prohibiting display of the Confederate battle flag on their installations, and NASCAR did the same for its grounds.

The subjects of the removals has expanded; many statues of Columbus have been removed, as his arrival in the Western hemisphere marked the beginning of the genocide of Native American people. Many local figures connected with racism were also the subject of protests and monument removals.

As far back as 2017 NC Governor Roy Cooper called for Confederate monuments on State Capitol grounds to be relocated to museums or related historical sites where they can be viewed in context. The Republican-majority legislature has enacted laws to prohibit him from doing so.

However, in June Cooper ordered the Confederate monuments on the NC capitol grounds to be moved to protect public safety after protestors tore down two Confederate statues in Raleigh. Cooper said, “Monuments to white supremacy don’t belong in places of allegiance, and it’s past time that these painful memorials be moved in a legal, safe way.”

Removal of NC Monuments

The following NC monuments and memorials were removed during the George Floyd protests due to their association with racism in the United States. Most commemorated people who were involved in the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy; others were linked to the genocide of Native Americans, segregation in the United States, and related issues.

On June 19, 2020 the NC State Confederate Monument, Raleigh, NC was removed. Protesters pulled down two statues at the base of the monument, dragging one through the streets and hanging it from a street light. The base and remainder of the monument were removed by work crews as ordered by Governor Roy Cooper shortly afterward. A few days later a statue of Henry Lawson Wyatt and a Monument to NC Women of the Confederacy were also removed on Cooper’s orders.

That same week the descendants of Josephus Daniels removed a statue to their ancestor from its spot near the Raleigh News & Observer building, which is scheduled to be demolished. Daniels’s family will keep the statue in storage until a decision is made on its final fate.

In Asheville the Vance Monument and two other Confederate memorials have been addressed by the City Council and County Commission. A monument to 60th Regt. NC Volunteers located by the County Courthouse was removed on July 14, 2020. The “Robert E. Lee Dixie Highway” marker, located on city property but also installed by UDC, was removed on July 10, 2020.

Also in June, City Council and the County Commission established a joint commission to determine the fate of the Vance Monument, honoring Civil War Governor Zebulon Baird Vance. Each body will appoint six members to a commission charged with proposing plans for repurposing, renaming, or removal. On July 9 scaffolding was built, and the monument shrouded.

Elsewhere in the state, the Rocky Mount City Council voted to remove the Nash County Confederate Monument; Salisbury City Council and the local UDC agreed to relocate the Gloria Victis (“Glory to the vanquished”) statue Old Lutheran Cemetery; the Pitt County Commission voted to remove the Pitt County Confederate Soldiers Monument in Greenville, NC under “reason of threatened public safety”; and the Louisburg Town Council voted to move the “To our Confederate dead” monument to Oakwood Cemetery.

Privately, the Carolina Panthers removed a statue of late owner Jerry Richardson from the Bank of America Stadium for fear it would be destroyed by protesters. And on May 30 the Market House Building, a tourist attraction and museum on the site of a former slave market, was set on fire by demonstrators chanting “Black Lives Matter.” The demonstrators used wood pallets to encourage a larger fire.

For a full list of the monuments removed, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_monuments_and_memorials_removed_during_the_George_Floyd_protests

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