‘Physical symbols of white supremacy’ are coming down. What changed?

After years of debate, Confederate monuments are being removed from public land. In their place, let’s honor leaders whose stories haven’t been told.

In Lexington, Virginia, a three-hour drive southwest of National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., the ground is shifting in a way that turns history into headlines.

In December 2020 the Virginia Military Institute removed a statue of one of its past teachers: Army Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson, a Confederate leader in the Civil War and owner of enslaved people. The statue had been on campus since 1912; until a few years ago, cadets at the taxpayer-supported school were expected to salute it as they passed.

The decision to relocate Jackson’s statue to a museum followed an October ruling to allow Virginia’s governor to remove a large statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee from state-owned land in Richmond, the former Confederate capital.

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