A sculpture of the Confederate general has sparked deadly racial hatred in Charlottesville. Now the statue goes into the Furnace.
One of the most famous monuments of the American Southern States is disappearing: the statue of Robert E. Lee in the middle of Charlottesville. It started as a harmless school project, then the city became a chilling example of just how strong far-right movements are in America. As a class assignment, student Zyahna Bryant started a petition in 2016 demanding the removal of the bronze sculpture of the Confederate general. The petition quickly garnered a lot of support. Lee is one of the symbols of the Southern States' racist past: he led the Confederate troops fighting to preserve slavery in the American Civil War.
His sculpture, located in central Charlottesville, had a special significance: it became a national symbol in the Kulturkampf between conservative Southerners and the rest of the United States after the city voted to remove it.
In July, the sculpture, which weighed more than half a ton, was dismantled and stored in a visually stunning campaign.
Now the Charlottesville City Council has decided to donate the Lee statue to a local museum, the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center.
The new plant should be ready in 2027
"Our community will meet white racism with creativity and heal the ugliness of the past with beauty," says museum director Andrea Douglas in a video that the museum is now using to raise money. The project is expected to cost 1.1 million dollars, around half of which is secured, for the rest there is an appeal for donations on the Internet.
On the 100th anniversary of the erection of the statue, a jury is to commission an artist to create a new work in 2024.
The initiators of the Charlottesville project hope that their art campaign will inspire other towns to also remove and rededicate their Southern monuments.