Ownership of Virginia Confederate monuments will transfer to Black History Museum

On Sept. 8, 2021, crews removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the pedestal where it stood in Virginia's capital for more than a century.

Virginia and Richmond officials on Thursday announced a tentative agreement to transfer ownership of the city's now mostly removed Confederate monuments to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.

Included in the transfer would be an enormous statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee that was removed earlier this year, as well as the 40-foot-tall pedestal that held it. Pedestal removal work at the site is still underway.

Under the plan announced by Gov. Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, the Black History Museum would work with The Valentine museum of Richmond and the local community to determine the memorials' fates.

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The deal requires the City Council’s approval, which Stoney said he would seek next month. The arrangement would enable the community to take a deliberate approach in its reckoning with such divisive symbols, Stoney said in a statement.

"Entrusting the future of these monuments and pedestals to two of our most respected institutions is the right thing to do," Stoney said.

Statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson being removed from Richmond's Monument Avenue. (Photo: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam)

Stoney directed the removal of the city's Confederate monuments last summer amid the protest movement that erupted after the police killing of George Floyd.

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The statues have been in storage since then, at least part of that time at the city's wastewater plant. Not all of the pedestals have been removed.

The time capsules recently uncovered in the Lee monument are not included the transfer to the museum, according to Greg Werkheiser, a founding partner of Cultural Heritage Partners, advisors to the Black History Museum and the Valentine.

"The Department of Historic Resources is still figuring out exactly what’s in them, how to preserve them," Werkheiser told WWBT. "That process is going to take some time, so no one is ready to decide just yet what happens to those."

The city's monument of Confederate Gen. A.P. Hill will also not be transferred to the museum because his remains are buried beneath it, FOX News reported.

The base of the Gen. Robert E. Lee statute in Richmond, Va. covered in graffiti. (Barnini Chakraborty/Fox News)

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Around the same time the city's statues were removed, Northam announced plans to remove the Lee statue, which was located on state property. But litigation tied up his plans until earlier this year.

The statue was removed in September, and work to take down the enormous pedestal began earlier this month.

In Charlottesville, Viginia, the city council voted unanimously in early December in favor of donating their city's controversial Lee statue to an African American heritage center, which planned to melt down the statue and turn it into a piece of public art.

The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this report.