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J.E.B. Stuart Statue Removed From Monument Ave

J.E.B. Stuart removal
J.E.B. Stuart removal. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

*Patrick Larsen reported this story

J.E.B. Stuart’s statue was the latest Confederate memorial to be taken down by the City of Richmond on Tuesday morning.

As the hours-long process unfolded, hundreds of onlookers gathered, many taking photos and videos. 

Valerie Cassel Oliver, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the VMFA, was among them. She missed the statue’s removal - she didn’t hear about it until it was too late - but came in time to see it loaded onto a flatbed truck to be towed away. Cassel Oliver said she’s thinking about another statue, too.

“What’s interesting for me is that the sculpture really served as a muse for the Kehinde Wiley ‘Rumors of War’ work,” Cassel Oliver said.

She’s referring to a three-story bronze sculpture outside the VMFA that was modeled after Stuarts’. It depicts a Black youth on a horse, wearing ripped jeans and hoodie. She says Wiley’s sculpture contextualizes Richmond’s complex history.

“It starts in our own backyard, and starts with reconciling the issues of the past so that we can at least build on a firm foundation this time,” Cassel Oliver said.

Also in attendance was Sparkle Veronica Taylor, who watched for two hours with one of her children as workers removed the large bronze statue. Taylor said she wanted to use this opportunity to start teaching her kids about the history of racism in America.

“I told him ‘Just keep your eyes open, pay attention to what’s going on, and I am about to explain to you why this is important,’” she said.

Taylor lives in Richmond now, but grew up in Brooklyn, New York. - “I’m not used to living in an environment that’s so inherently racist,” - and says that she was concerned about raising her children under symbols of oppression.

“Racism and prejudice is in the very fabric of this city, and it’s always disgusted me - especially since my child is mixed,” Taylor said.

While many see removing the statues as a strong symbolic step, Taylor and Cassel Oliver agree - along with protesters and advocates - it’s only the beginning of addressing systemic problems facing people of color.

The Stuart statue was the second Confederate memorial installed along Monument Avenue over a century ago.  

 

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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