Richmond, Virginia’s mayor is taking a middle of the road approach to the hot-button issue of Confederate monuments. Other Southern cities, by contrast, uprooted their racist Confederate monuments amid turmoil.
Mayor Levar Stoney announced Thursday that the monuments would remain, but he appointed a 13-member commission that would find ways to tell the historic facts about them, with the aim of correcting “false narratives,” the Washington Post reports.
At a press conference, the mayor described the monuments as the “alternative facts of their time,” combining “equal parts myth and deception,” the newspaper reported.
Stoney, 36, added that the monuments were created “not only to lionize the architects and defenders of slavery, but to perpetuate the tyranny and terror of Jim Crow and reassert a new era of White supremacy.”
Phil Wilayto, of the Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality, told the Richmond Post-Dispatch that Stoney “nailed” the description and purpose of the monuments. However, he said they must be removed because they symbolize racism and were erected to herald the return of White supremacy.
According to The Post, five Confederacy monuments line a parade route, in the city that was once the capital of the Confederate states. They were erected between 1890 and 1929, and pay homage to Confederate leaders.
Frank Earnest, a heritage coordinator for the state’s Sons of Confederate Veterans, told The Post that his organization would fight the placement of signs near the monuments that discredit his group’s view of history.
The Post-Dispatch said Stoney named his committee the “Monument Avenue Commission.” He appointed Christy Coleman, the CEO of the American Civil War Museum, and Gregg Kimball, director of outreach for the Library of Virginia, as co-chairs.
After holding public meetings and studying the issue, the commission will deliver its recommendations to Stoney, expected by November. Many anticipate that they will recommend new signage or monuments to put the Confederate monuments in historic context.