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The debate over Confederate memorials in Virginia is far from over

America Protests Confederate Monuments
J. Scott Applewhite
/
AP
Paint and protest graffiti covers the Jefferson Davis Memorial in Richmond, Va., Sunday, June 7, 2020. Davis was the president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

The battle over Confederate statues and memorials is not over.

Fairfax County is on the road to ditching Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from the names of prominent highways, and the Navy is considering renaming ships that honor the Confederacy.

Robert McCaw at the Council on American Islamic Relations says the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery should be removed.

"It includes a statue of an enslaved woman holding the child of her white master and an enslaved man following his owner to war," McCaw explains. "And so at our nation's graveyard, even if that's where Confederate soldiers are buried, we should not be honoring the pro-slavery past.”

In Matthews County, along the Chesapeake Bay, the local government is considering privatizing a Confederate statue outside its courthouse, a move opposed by the local NAACP. Kaitlin Banner is a lawyer representing the civil rights group.

"The impact of privatization means that the county loses all control over what happens with that statue and with that land, and that means that land can be used for hateful displays," says Banner. "If the county decides in the future that they want to remove the statue or relocate the statue, they'll be unable to do so."

Because of its prominent place as the capital of the Confederacy, Virginia has more Confederate statues and memorials and schools named for Confederates than any other state. So these debates are likely to continue.

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

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.