The statue of Robert E. Lee, the treasonous general who led confederate soldiers against the Union in defense of slavery, was removed from its pedestal Saturday.
Erected in 1924, it stood as a reminder that African Americans were no more than second class citizens in their own country. In the summer of 2017, it served as a background for racists of all stripes on the far alt-right to march on Charlottesville, that culminated in the death of liberal activist Heather Heyer.
Activists have been attempting to get the statue removed for years. The most recent attempt to get it removed began in 2016, with a petition by a high school student by the name of Zyahna Bryant. The Charlottesville city council voted to remove it in 2017, but the petition was blocked by a lawsuit.
“To the young people out there, I hope that this empowers you to speak up on the issues that matter, and to take charge in your own cities and communities,” Bryant said Saturday before the statue was removed. “No platform for white supremacy. No platform for racism. And no platform for hate.”
The CCC also voted to remove a statue commemorating the Lewis and Clark expedition. Both the Lee Statue and the Lewis and Clark, were donated by Paul Goodloe McIntyre in 1919.
A White House spokesperson said that president Biden was down with the removal of both statues.
“As president Biden has said, there is a difference between reminders and remembrances of history,” the spokesperson said. “The president believes that monuments to Confederate leaders belong in museums, not in public places, and welcomes the removal of the statues today.”
In a Saturday interview with CBS News, Bryant also said she was pleased with the removal of the statues.
“This is only a first step,” she said. “It’s a monumental first step, but only a first step. We’re no longer offering a platform for white supremacy.”
Sources: AP News, CBS News.