Robert E. Lee Removed from Virginia State House and a School Name as Courts Weigh Future of Richmond Statue
Ivan Pereira, ABC News, July 24, 2020
While the fate of the controversial Robert E. Lee outdoor statue in Richmond, Virginia, remains in limbo in court, state leaders and county school officials in Northern Virginia decided to end their association with the Confederate general.
The speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates announced Friday morning that they removed busts of Lee and eight other Confederate leaders from the Old House Chamber in the state Capitol Building overnight. The move at the statehouse came hours after the Fairfax County School Board voted to change the name of the Robert E. Lee High School, in Springfield, to the John Lewis High School, in honor of the recently deceased Georgia congressman and civil rights leader.
“Representative Lewis was a champion of the Civil Rights movement, and our Board strongly believes this is an appropriate tribute to an individual who is a true American hero,” School Board Chair Ricardy Anderson said in a statement Thursday night.
The House of Delegates, which became a Democratic majority earlier this year, has the power to remove the busts from their section of the Capitol, according to Speaker Eileen-Fuller Corn. Some of the other busts removed from the House of Delegates include Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis.
The Virginia State Legislature made several moves this year to lessen Confederate memorials in the state, such as a measure that allowed local municipalities to remove their Confederate monuments and another piece of legislation that swapped state holidays honoring Confederate generals for Election Day.