City council to decide future of recently removed Lee and Jackson monuments – The Cavalier Daily
City Council will meet on December 6 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the future of the statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, which were withdrawn in July after years of advocacy by members of the community and students, according to to an announcement by Mayor Nikuyah Walker. Six move proposals have been submitted to city council.
The Robert E. Lee statue was first erected in 1924, while the Stonewall Jackson statue was erected in 1921. Both were funded by Paul Goodloe McIntire, the namesake of the McIntire School of Commerce, McIntire Department of Art, McIntire Department of Music and McIntire Amphitheater.
Zyahna Bryant, a local activist and third-year college student, first wrote a petition in 2016 demanding that Lee Park’s name be changed and his statue removed. After Bryant’s petition quickly gained traction, city council established the Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces to solicit public comment on the statues and make a recommendation on their future. The group’s final report suggested removing and relocating or contextualizing the statues.
Controversy surrounding the statues precipitated the âUnite the Rightâ rally in August 2017, when hundreds of white supremacist groups and individuals gathered in Charlottesville to protest city council’s vote to remove Lee’s statue. White nationalists clashed with counter-protesters, leaving dozens injured, and Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer was killed after a protester drove a car through crowds of people at an intersection. In a civil lawsuit against the rally’s organizers, jurors ordered the defendants to pay more than $ 25 million in damages.
The six proposals submitted to the city council present very different visions of the statues.
One proposal comes from the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, an organization whose mission is to honor and preserve the rich heritage and legacy of Charlottesville’s black community and to promote “the contributions of African Americans and peoples of the African diaspora at local, national and global levels. . ”
The group came up with a project called “Swords into Plowshares,” which would involve melting the Robert E. Lee statue and commissioning an artist in residence to reuse the bronze for a public art installation.
The idea for “Swords into plowshares” comes from Isaiah 2: 4, which deals with nations turning their “swords into plowshares” and no longer engage in war. In a press release issued Oct. 18, JSSAHC said its project “will represent the desires of the entire community for socially just and value-driven objects in our public spaces.”
While many groups come up with plans to recontextualize monuments, the JSAAHC believes that ârecontextualization is not enoughâ. Rather than presenting the act as an act of destruction, JSAAHC says they will engage in an act of transformation.
âTransformation is different from destruction: the new artwork will derive meaning from the fact that it will be formed from the same materials that were once used in the statue of Lee,â the proposal says. “We believe our proposal will create an opportunity to move history forward and leave behind the misconception that such symbols are an integral part of the common heritage of our community.”
JSAAHC’s proposal is supported by local and national organizations, including the University of Virginia Democracy Initiative’s dissertation project, Descendants of Enslaved Communities at U.Va., and the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, which seeks to bring together diverse communities through the arts. The Memory Project examines how individuals think about the past and use it to shape their future, while Descendants from communities enslaved to U.Va. serves as the collective voice of all descendants of black slave and free communities who worked at the university.
The âSwords into Plowsharesâ project has already raised more than $ 500,000 in funding.
Another proposal came from the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum located in Stonewall Jackson’s hometown – Weston, West Virginia.
The building operated as a mental health care facility from 1864 to 1994, and since the closure of its mental health operations, the site offers tours of the facility to 40,000 tourists each year, who feature a discussion of l importance of the building during the Civil War and the architecture of the building.
Currently, the Town of Weston is the subject of a ‘Revitalization and Restoration Project’ endorsed by the Historic Monuments Commission, which is dedicated to the preservation of historic sites in the town, and other community groups to save some of its âmost at-risk structuresâ.
“The goal of the HLC and TALA is to share and preserve these stories while encouraging a discourse that allows audiences to learn from the past,” the group said in its proposal.
The group has offered $ 1,000 for the ownership of the Stonewall Jackson statue and its granite base and will emphasize “the importance of confronting these historical narratives in the hope of leading to peacebuilding and equality. “.
The Ratcliffe Foundation, a 501cx3 group established in honor of the late Arthur M. “Smiley ‘Ratliff – a well-known coal miner, businessman, winning football coach and veteran of WWII and WWII. Southwest Korea Virginia – made an offer of $ 50,000 for the two statues. The foundation says it has a “creative vision” to move the monuments to Ellenbrook, a “museum-like historical setting where they can be. properly preserved, displayed and contextualized in perpetuity â.
The foundation plans to use historians and curators to describe how and why the statues were erected and why they were removed.
Like Lunatic Asylum, the Southwest Virginia landmark could attract up to 40,000 visitors a year, the proposal notes, which could create new tax revenues for the region, thus ending ” otherwise difficult and difficult circumstances â.
The proposal details the acquisition, timing and conditions of the offer and presents maps of the land.
One proposal, titled âOffer of Confederate Statutes,â differed from the others.
In a handwritten proposal, Frederick Girrisch of Utopia, Texas, who defines himself as an “individual family man with a wonderful wife and wonderful children,” requests the statues for his personal collection on his 2,800-acre ranch.
âI believe our good and bad stories should be preserved,â writes Girrisch. âThese will be in a safe place and protected from any future graffiti or damage. “
Girrisch listed four reasons why the city should accept its offer of $ 10,000 each per statue and base, namely that it offers “a better and quieter alternative” to other offers, as it is committed to keeping the statues. âOut of sight and out of mind. . “
Statuary Park in Gettysburg, submitted comments on the process, after being given an opportunity to submit a proposal.
The Park’s mission is to ârescueâ unwanted statues and present them to the public. The park is inspired by museums in Taiwan, Russia, Hungary and Lithuania, where, according to the proposal, “there is no ennobling of the statues”.
The group’s comment calls the cost of relocating the bases a “significant deterrent” that “favors well-established statues or those close to Charlottesville itself,” and recommends that the city use the $ 250 million monuments project to identify , delete and replace.
The project is a commitment by the Mellon Foundation to support public projects that seek to represent the “multiplicity and complexity of American stories.”
LAXART, a nonprofit art space based in Los Angeles, California, has requested the two monuments for an exhibition whose working title is “MONUMENTS.”
Co-curated by Hamza Walker, director of LAXART and Kara Walker, the exhibition is a joint venture between LAXART and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art that would showcase a selection of disused Confederate monuments as well as contemporary art, according to the proposal. submitted by the group.
âMONUMENTS will de- and re-conextualize the Confederate monument from the perspective of the present momentâ¦ in the wake of recent white supremacist extremism,â the proposal states.
The exhibit will feature on-site educational materials, a scholarly publication and a year-long series of public educational programs.
“It can hardly be said that the past is past,” the proposal notes, referring to the enduring legacy of slavery and the Jim Crow manifested by persistent white supremacy.
The statues would be presented to artists Kara Walker and William Pope.L, selected “for the way their work engages history and its legacies”.
“In addition to contextualizing the monuments socially, historically and artistically, the exhibition will criticize and squarely confront the lost cause, presenting it as the intentional rewrite of history that has acted as a very effective propaganda campaign.”
With funding from various sources, including the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and the Getty Foundation, LAXART offered the City of Charlottesville $ 100,000 for its dismantling costs and the costs of transportation and storage they would incur.
Additionally, the proposal outlined LAXART’s recontextualization plan, which aims to âcriticize and squarely confront the lost causeâ in addition to contextualizing monuments historically and socially. The proposal specifies that their objective is “to show that each of these objects has its own life, specific to the community in which it is located”.
The public will be able to watch a live broadcast of the meeting on the Council’s website.