Confederate statue handover: a monumental shift in race relations in post-BLM Virginia?

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The fate of monuments has become an emotive issue. Charlottesville, where the removal of the Robert E Lee statue triggered the violent “Unite the Right” protest, outraged preservationists by melting the monument down.

Albemarle County in Virginia came under fire for sending its Confederate soldier statue to the Shenandoah Valley where it remains on display.

Given the strong feelings surrounding the fate of the monuments, Richmond, which was the second capital of the Confederacy, has chosen to take its time over what to do with the artefacts.

“The statues are an important part of our history which should be reflected, including what happened on our streets,” Bill Martin, the director of The Valentine museum, told The Telegraph.

“What do the last few years mean? What do the monuments mean and what did they mean when they were built?

“We can now talk about what the absence of monuments means. We have places where we have removed history. These are stories that have been lost and we have to decide what stories we need to tell.

“This goes further than just discussing the mechanics of where a statue goes. We need to ask people how we want to go forward. We are starting with an open slate, and we can create something different in Virginia which can help us understand the Civil War and the enduring legacies of injustice.”

Writing a new chapter

Mr Northam said the statues had celebrated the country’s tragic division and the fight to maintain slavery for too long.

“Now it will be up to our thoughtful museums, informed by the people of Virginia, to determine the future of these artefacts.”

A Russian billionaire, Andrey Filatov, is reported to have offered to buy statues of Theodore Roosevelt, the former US president and Alexander Baranov, the first governor of Russian colonies in Alaska, which have been removed after being linked to racism and colonialism.

Mr Filatov has proposed to bring them to St Petersburg where they will be recognised for their contribution to Russian history.

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