The origin story of Monument Avenue, America’s most controversial street
The boulevard that long defined Richmond, Virginia, capital of the Confederacy, began as a ploy by a savvy real estate developer.
Empty plinths colorfully spray-painted with social justice slogans now punctuate the South’s grandest boulevard. In the aftermath of the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, protestors and city contractors brought down the immense memorials to Confederate leaders along Richmond’s tree-lined Monument Avenue.
“Times have changed, and removing these statues will allow the healing process to begin,” said Levar Stoney, the city’s 39-year-old African-American mayor. “Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy. It is filled with diversity and love for all.”
Yet the 12-ton equestrian figure of General Robert E. Lee continues to tower over one of the Virginia capital’s most elegant neighborhoods, its fate tied up in litigation. The statue