By: Alyssa Wilson
13 organizations, one municipality and at least 18 citizens are interested in acquiring two statues of Confederate generals.
According to the Associated Press, the statues were removed from parks in downtown Charlottesville, including one at the center of a violent white nationalist rally in 2017.
Museums, battlefields and historical sites in multiple states expressed their interest after the statues were removed earlier in July. The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center is the only organization in the Charlottesville area interested. The Los Angeles art museum LAXART expressed interest and submitted a proposal to include the statues in an exhibit about decommissioned Confederate monuments.
The town of Goshen, Virginia, wants to acquire the statues and place them in front of a community center in hopes of attracting tourists. Other interested organizations include the Jim Crow Museum in Michigan, Pennsylvania’s Gettysburg Sculpture Museum, the Ogletree Estate in Georgia, Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, the Confederate Gen. Robert Toombs Camp in Georgia and North Carolina’s Controversial Art Trust.
On July 13, the Charlottesville City Council said it would continue to accept statements of interest from entities interested in acquiring the statues, but it did not decide whether ownership of the statues would go to a museum, organization or private citizen. The mayor is set to reach out to interested parties in September to evaluate their interest and resources.
White supremacist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville want the city to defend the statue of Lee. In 2017, they clashed with protesters at a Unite the Right rally where a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd, killing a 32-year-old woman.
Lee was a slave owner who said enslaved Americans were better off in America than in Africa. According to The Atlantic, in 1856, he wrote, “The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things.”
In 2017, descendants of Jackson urged the city to remove the monument, saying, “We have learned how thoughtful and loving he was toward his family. But we cannot ignore his decision to own slaves, his decision to go to war for the Confederacy, and ultimately, the fact that he was a white man fighting on the side of white supremacy.”
The push to remove Confederate monuments has grown exponentially since 2017. According to NPR, 168 Confederate symbols were removed across the United States in 2020. The Southern Poverty Law Center found that 2,100 remained as of February.
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