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Virginia capital unveils monument marking end of slavery after removing Confederate statue By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s statue is taken off its pedestal at Monument Avenue, Richmond. U.S. Sept. 8, 2021. Bob Brown//Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) – Two weeks after Richmond, Virginia, removed a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that had prompted protests over racial injustice, the city unveiled a new monument on Wednesday commemorating the end of slavery.

Two bronze statues measuring 12 feet each depict a man and woman holding a baby, both created by Thomas Jay Warren of Oregon.

Richmond Mayor Levarstoney declared that “the enslaved built the city with their hands.” “We are rebuilding this city from the heart.”

It is less than 2 miles away from where the towering, 61-foot Lee monument had been for over a century.

The Confederacy statues, which honors the leader of Southern states who seceded to the United States in favor of slavery and participated in the Civil War (1861-65), have been the targets of protests against racism. During the war, Richmond was Confederate Capital.

In June 2020 Governor Ralph Northam declared the removal of the Lee statue. This was days after George Floyd (a Black man) was shot to death by a Minneapolis police officer. It sparked nationwide protests.

Northam stated that Wednesday’s ceremony was one of his proudest moments. “Just weeks ago, it was one of the most memorable days of my life, we removed a statue representing a man who led a force to prevent the emancipation of freedom these figures represent.”

On the pedestal are the biographies and names of 10 Black Virginians that contributed to liberation struggles before and after emancipation. They include Nat Turner (who led a short-lived slave revolt in Virginia in 1831) and Dred Scott, a slave whose successful lawsuit to get his freedom resulted in an 1857 U.S. Supreme Court order that African Americans were not citizens.

As part of the commemoration of 150 years since President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery in the United States, the project started a decade back.

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