statue of Robert E Lee in Richmond, Virginia

Toppling statues is a first step toward ending Confederate myths

The statues rewrote history, reflecting the values of those who erected them. Removing them won’t erase history.

Protesters gather peacefully one evening at Robert E. Lee Circle on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. “BLM” for Black Lives Matter is projected on Lee’s horse, while a photograph of Marcus David Peters, a 24-year-old Black man killed by a Richmond police officer, is projected onto the pedestal, which is covered with graffiti.

Like dominoes, the Confederate statues along Richmond, Virginia’s historic Monument Avenue are coming down one by one. The first to topple was the likeness of Jefferson Davis. The president of the Confederate States of America had loomed over the street since 1907; on June 10, a tow truck carted it away. Three weeks later, on July 1, it was General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson’s turn to fall. A day later, a truck with a hydraulic lift came for Admiral Matthew Fontaine Maury, who had spent part of the Civil War drumming up European support for the Confederacy.

I paid a visit to Monument Avenue before Richmond’s mayor ordered that Jackson and other statues under city control be removed. At noon on

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