Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Richmond To Begin Process Of Transferring Confederate Monuments

People surround statue
In this June 1, 2020 photo, Black Lives Matter protesters surround the now removed Monument Avenue statue to Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Richmond City Council is moving forward with selling or transferring the Confederate monuments taken down last year.

In response to nightly racial justice protests in the city and beyond, Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the removal of all of Richmond’s public Confederate monuments and iconography in July 2020. By that point protesters had already toppled three Confederate statues: Jefferson Davis on Monument Ave., Williams Carter Wickham in Monroe Park, and the Howitzer Battalion memorial on VCU’s campus. Protesters also toppled a monument of Christopher Columbus in Byrd Park and threw the statue in the pond.

Now, City Council will evaluate offers to take the statues from private individuals, museums and historical societies.

“It’s been over a year since we first started making efforts to dismantle and move the monuments,” said Councilmember Stephanie Lynch. “It was a great day when they started coming down in July, but it’s been pretty painful to get from point A to point B.”

It will still be months before the monuments leave city storage and head to their final home.

Under the process approved Monday night, a committee of city council staff and staff from the Stoney administration will begin evaluating the proposals before beginning negotiations on a contract.

In total, there are 22 requests ranging from the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command, the official history program for the U.S. Navy, and five private individuals. Groups with connections to the people depicted in the statues, like J.E.B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust and the current owners of Wickham’s Hickory Hill plantation, are among the other 18 requests.

VPM first reported in August that Richmond’s local history museum, The Valentine, is requesting the toppled statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, which it says would be displayed as part of a broader exhibit on the ‘Lost Cause’ movement.

The evaluation criteria set out by city council will include the new owner’s ability to preserve and maintain the statues and ability to pay for transportation to a new location. Each criteria category is assigned a value from 5 to 20, and a proposal can receive up to 100 points.

The most heavily weighted criteria will be the new location of the monuments and their intended use. According to the score sheet, a potential owner will lose points if they want to display the statue without historical context or in a way that glorifies the Confederacy and its racist ideology.

Prospective monument owners that are government agencies or IRS-recognized nonprofits will be given preference.

A resolution outlining the final transfer of the statues will need to be approved by the council’s Land Use, Housing and Transportation Committee and will need a final vote of approval from the full council. It will also go to the Richmond Planning Commission and the Commission of Architectural Review for non-binding votes.