Should Virginia Replace Confederate Statue on Capitol Hill?

Aug 22, 2017

A number of Confederate heroes, including General Robert E. Lee, are memorialized in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill.
Credit AP Photo / Susan Walsh

Confederate statues aren’t just at courthouses and public squares in the South. They are also placed in positions of honor at the United States Capitol.

The old House chamber of the U.S. Capitol is now known as Statuary Hall. Every state gets to send two statues. Virginia has George Washington as one of its statutes. But it also has Robert E. Lee. Now, in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Senator Tim Kaine appeared on Face the Nation and Morning Joe to raise questions about that.

“In 2017, is it really Robert E. Lee that we would say is the person we want to stand for who Virginia is? I’m not sure it is.”

Kaine suggests Lee be replaced with a statue of Pocahontas. Or former Governor Doug Wilder. Or even civil rights pioneer Barbara Johns. Kaine’s possible Republican opponent next year is Corey Stewart, who says removing Lee’s statue would be a mistake.

“After the war, Robert E. Lee was a great unifier. He expelled white students from Washington College for attacking black citizens. He was a good and honorable man, and this is not a way that we should disrespect an American hero like Robert E. Lee.”

In order to remove the statue from the U.S. Capitol, the General Assembly would have to pass a resolution and the governor would have to sign it.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association