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Richmond hands monument process over to Black History Museum

The now-removed Jefferson Davis monument is one of nine monuments who would be transferred to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.

Stoney will request permission from city council to transfer the ownership of nine monuments’ pedestals and statues to the museum in Richmond. The Valentine, another Richmond museum, will partner with the Black History Museum to “manage a multi-year, community-driven process to determine the proper future use of each piece of the collection,” the statement said.

“Entrusting the future of these monuments and pedestals to two of our most respected institutions is the right thing to do,” said Stoney in the statement. “They will take the time that is necessary to properly engage the public and ensure the thoughtful future uses of these artifacts, while we reimagine Monument Avenue, focus on telling our history fully and accurately in places like Shockoe Bottom and lift up residents throughout the city.”

Richmond took down most of its monuments last year, after protestors took down others. In September, the Commonwealth removed a statue of Robert E Lee. This month workers removed its pedestal which demonstrators turned into a massive piece of protest art.

The nine monuments are those to Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Joseph Bryan, Fitzhugh Lee, Confederate Soldier and Sailors, and ceremonial cannon. One more monument, of General AP Hill, is not included. It is still standing and contains Hill’s remains.

This summer Richmond solicited requests from institutions hoping to take responsibility for the city’s removed monuments. The Valentine submitted a request, but the Black History Museum did not.

City spokesperson Jim Nolan didn’t answer an email asking when the Black History Museum came into the process. He did point out a provision allowing city council to decide the final disposition of the monuments.

“The State and City concluded that more time and a more fulsome public engagement process, managed by cultural institutions, would lead to better outcomes for everyone. The City Council has full discretion, under law, to decide how and where to place the monuments,” said Greg Werkheiser, of the law firm Cultural Heritage Partners, wrote in an email. Werkheiser is a press contact for the two museums

The Black History Museum should announce their proposal for community engagement process in the next two weeks, Werkheiser said. He said the process will consider inputs from the city process and new ideas.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Jahd Khalil is a reporter and producer in Richmond.
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