The New Lost Cause: Getting General Assembly to Address Confederate Symbols

Nov 16, 2016

Members of the General Assembly are preparing for the upcoming session, and a number of key issues are emerging. But there’s one issue that’s not expected to be part of the discussion.

Arlington wants to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway. Alexandria wants to move a Confederate statue. Portsmouth and Charlottesville have also looked into their public memorials honoring the Lost Cause. There’s only one problem: In order to do anything about it, they would need the General Assembly to pass a law to make it happen. 

“If they decide to do this in Richmond, it’s going to be politically nuclear."

That’s Republican Delegate Dave Albo of Springfield.

“A lot of delegates in the House of Delegates are going to have a problem with trying to rewrite history, and they’re afraid of the slippery slope."

Credit AP Photo / Dave Martin, File

He says that slippery slope could include everything from the slave plantation Monticello to the Capitol Square statue of Harry Byrd, who led massive resistance to civil rights. During a public hearing about the Alexandria statue, Cat Clark says now is the time to repudiate the Confederacy. 

“The war waged by the Confederacy to preserve white supremacy to sustain enslavement, torture, terrorization and sexual assault of black Americans should be remembered under repudiation, not celebration."

So far, no members of the General Assembly have introduced any bill that to rename any streets or move any statues.