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Crews arrived early in the morning on Wednesday to remove the 21-foot bronze statue of disgraced Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said “It represents more than 400 years of history that we should not be proud of.”
The Robert E. Lee statue was not the first Confederate statue removed from Virginia’s capital city within the last few years either, as calls across the nation have grown for the removal of statues honoring Confederate soldiers.
Black-owned construction company brought down confederate monument
Devon Henry is the Black business owner of the company that accepted the contract from the city of Richmond to remove 15 pieces of Confederate statuary that dotted the city, including the Robert E. Lee statue.
Henry took on a job the city said others were unwilling to do. There was angry opposition, and fear for the safety of all involved. He even wore a bulletproof vest to some of the removals after receiving death threats.
“I feel a great deal of conviction in what we did and how it was done,” Henry told The Associated Press.
Black soldiers honored with monument
Across the nation, dozens of Confederate statues have been removed within the last year.
With almost each statue removal, the call to replace them with other figures (who didn’t betray this country) have grown. Often the suggestions have been people of color and women.
Last week the U.S. Military Academy at West Point installed a 2,000-pound bronze statue of Staff Sgt. Sanders H. Matthews to honor the Buffalo Soldiers who taught horsemanship to White cadets as far back as 114 years ago. It’s the first outdoor statue of a Black man on the West Point campus.
Most people don’t know that Buffalo Soldiers served at West Point, much less that they professionalized horsemanship training at the academy immediately upon taking over from an undisciplined, poorly performing, White cavalry outfit.
Native Americans are credited with giving soldiers of the all-Black 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry stationed in the West after the Civil War the name “Buffalo Soldiers.” Initially commanded by White officers, Black soldiers faced extreme racial prejudice from the Army and deadly violence from civilians.
Staff Sgt. Sanders H. Matthews’ granddaughter, Aundrea Matthews, was at the unveiling of the statue at West Point.
“Everybody has a right to have their story told, because it’s a powerful story,” Matthews told The Washington Post. “Just what [the Buffalo Soldiers] endured, their determination and their commitment to prove to the world that African American men can contribute and are viable citizens of this country.”
“We talk about so much pain that Black men experience in America and all the judgments people make about them,” Matthews added. “But when you put this monument up there, you’re only going to be able to talk about their triumphs … their valor, their honor, their patriotism.”