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Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument Removed From Libby Hill

Men stand on a crane platform in front of a statue
Workers dismantle the base of the Soldiers and Sailors monument. (Photo: Coleman Jennings/VPM News)

*This story was reported by VPM News intern Alex Broening

A crowd gathered Wednesday morning to watch and cheer as city workers removed the Soldiers and Sailors monument on Libby Hill from its pedestal. The monument was the latest confederate statue brought down after Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the removal of 11 monuments last Friday. That order followed more than a month of protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

The Soldiers and Sailors monument was built in 1894 by the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument Association, which was established in 1887. The group spent nearly a million dollars in today’s currency on the 90-foot pillar and statue, which overlooks Rocketts Landing, where a Confederate Navy Yard used to stand. The monument was funded in part by the General Assembly, as well as by donations and fundraisers. While  it was closely modeled on Pompey’s Pillar, a Roman column in Alexandria, Egypt, the designer altered the monument to be constructed from 13 blocks of granite - representing the 13 Confederate states.

Rudolph Bzdyk was in the crowd as the monument was removed, playing an arrangement of “We Shall Overcome” on his violin. The folk song gained popularity as a protest anthem during the Civil Rights Movement. Bzduk was glad to see the statue go, but he says he hopes that the graffiti on the monuments across the city will stay: “I think it's beautiful. I’d leave all the artwork that's been applied to the pedestals.”

Bzdyk also said that removing the statues was a good step for the city, adding “It’s like watching the past erode, not out of disrespect, but things always change, you know.”

Jennifer Dodge, who lives only a couple blocks away from the monument, said that more needed to be done to contextualize the remaining pillar. “It embodies a lot of the iconography of the confederacy,” she said, and added that more would need to be done to contextualize the remains of monuments across Richmond.

 Dodge suggested placing informative plaques at Libby Hill to discuss the history of the monument. She added that they would fit in with the existing signs that explain the history of the park and the view of the James River.

Crews were also seen taking down plaques around the Jefferson Davis monument along Monument Avenue. The statue of the Confederate leader was pulled down by protesters last month. 

Mayor Levar Stoney’s order to remove 11 confederate monuments came last Friday, after more than a month of continuous protests against police brutality and systemic racism. And while crowds have shown up and cheered as monuments continue to be taken down, organizers and protestors see the monuments merely as symbols for the problems that continue to go unaddressed.

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