Confederate veterans group miffed Black History Museum will get statues
RICHMOND, Va. -- The controversial Confederate generals who once stood tall over Richmond's iconic Monument Avenue are finding new homes.
Statues of Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart, along with other soldiers and artifacts now belong to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center Of Virginia, which will partner with The Valentine to determine the future of the collection.
“These are not just huge objects in terms of their physical presence,” Greg Werkheiser, who is advising both museums on the project, said. “They are huge objects in terms of the public's imagination.”
The move follows a process set forth by the city, which called on groups and individuals interested in acquiring the statues to submit a request by September 2020.
However, the Black History Museum was not one of 23 submissions the city received.
As a result, Andrew Morehead with the Virginia Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans, which did send in an application, said it should not be “even considered.”
But a spokesperson for the mayor pointed to an excerpt of an ordinance saying the city can direct the final disposition of the monuments.
And Werkheiser said the museums will not overlook those who sent requests.
“If someone submitted an application, they shouldn't feel as if a final decision has been made.”
However, Morehead believes other options make more sense.
“You have the Jeb Stuart Homeplace that submitted a formal application for the Jeb Stuart monument,” Morehead said. “What's more appropriate than that?”
As for the Lee monument, the Commonwealth will transfer ownership to Richmond and then Mayor Stoney will ask city council in January to support handing it over to the Black History Museum.
“What's really great about this is there are no geographic or strategic limitations placed on what can happen,” Werkheiser said. “I can tell you honestly, that both museums are entering this situation with completely open minds.”
Werkheiser said the museums will release a draft version of next steps within the next two months with specific timelines and targets.
“There's a little bit of cosmic poetry to the Black History Museum playing this role,” Werkheiser said. “It is meaningful that Black and Brown people and the institution that cultivates and curates their history will play a leadership role in determining their fate.”