CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (AP) – The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that sparked violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., Will be melted down and turned into a new piece of public art by an African-American heritage center.
City council decided how to dispose of the now-retired statue at the center of the Unite the Right rally in 2017 in a meeting that continued until Tuesday morning, The Daily Progress reported.
The statue of Lee and another of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson were removed the same day in July. The city has received six proposals from entities interested in one of the two, according to the newspaper.
Council members voted to donate the statue of Lee to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, whose proposal “Swords Into Plowshares” has received nearly 30 letters of support from organizations and individuals, including the Descendants of Enslaved Communities of the University of Virginia and descendants of Monticello enslaved community.
“Our hope with ‘Swords into Plowshares’ is to create something that turns what was once toxic in our public space into something beautiful that can more reflect the social values of our entire community,” said the director. Center Executive, Andrea Douglas. “We give people the opportunity to engage in our own narratives and our own stories. This project provides a roadmap for other communities to do the same.
The press release from the black-run heritage center also says that a “community engagement process” will inform the public art project, for which $ 590,000 has already been raised.
The council only voted on the disposition of Lee’s statue on Tuesday morning, the newspaper reported. Its withdrawal this summer came more than five years after racial justice activists renewed their efforts to suppress it, drawing opposition from racist groups that resulted in the deadly rally in 2017. Virginia’s highest court has ruled that the city could remove the statues of Lee and Jackson.
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