When Effigies Of Hate Burn: Robert E. Lee Statue Melted Down In Charlottesville

Source: Eze Amos / Swords Into Plowshares

An American symbol of hate was finally destroyed last week as Virginia’s controversial Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee has been melted down. 

According to WTKR, the Robert E. Lee statue, which was removed from downtown Charlottesville July 10, 2021, has been melted down to create a new public piece of art commissioned by the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center under the Swords Into Plowshares project. 

Dr. Andrea Douglas, the executive director of the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, told NewsOne that she felt relieved watching the statue being melted and that they are diligently working on next steps.

“The next phase is to form a jury and solicit artist proposals, with the goal of announcing a finalist in 2024–the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Lee statue. Ideally, the new art piece or pieces will be completed, donated back to the City of Charlottesville and installed in 2027, the 10th anniversary of the Unite the Right rally,” said Douglas.

“Unite the Right” Rally

In 2017, Charlottesville, Virginia, took center stage as the “Unite the Right” rally ended in racist violence and death.

On Aug. 12, 2017, alt-right, neo-Nazi and far-right militia hate groups traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the removal of the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee statue, which stood in the city for almost a century.

The white nationalist protest was met by counter-protesters who opposed the rallies’ racist intentions. The incident turned extremely violent, prompting Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency, but by then it was too late.

Self-identified white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a sea of protestors, killing Heather Heyer and injuring more than 30 others.

Fields was arrested, charged and eventually convicted in 2018 of first-degree murder, malicious wounding, as well as other crimes. He also pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crimes to avoid the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison, plus 419 years.

The name Swords Into Plowshares, which was taken from a Bible verse in the Book of Isaiah, represents the idea of transforming something destructive into something peaceful and meaningful, erasing the 100-year legacy of the Robert E. Lee Statue in Charlottesville, as well as the traumatic events that unfolded in 2017 in defense of the statue and the white supremacist longing for lost power it represents.

Bible verse Isaiah 2:4 reads, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Douglas continued, “Our efforts have been not to remove history, but bear witness to our truths about our racist pasts and our aspirations for a more equitable future.”

The Black-led institution plans to gift the city the new artwork in 2024, which will then be displayed for the public in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Source: Eze Amos / Swords Into Plowshares

Still concerns over white supremacy

Author and activist Rev. Osagyefo Sekou told NewsOne he believes art plays a role in the struggle for equality, but he is still concerned about the lasting effects of white supremacy.

“The fundamental question is what will the art be and more pointedly how do we beat back the resurgent white supremacy Neo Nazism?” said Rev. Sekou. “I do believe art has a key role in that struggle. The challenge for our beleaguered democracy is to reshape society into a more just civilization. That will take the kind of political heat that melted the statue.”

The Robert E. Lee statue has been a symbol of hate in Virginia since its inception in 1924. Created decades after the end of the Civil War, the statue was more of a representation of the Jim Crow era than the war itself.

The statues of Lee and other Confederates were splattered all over the country as a way to keep the Confederacy and the racism that accompanied it alive. 

Source: Anadolu Agency / Getty

Now that it’s completely gone and turning into something more positive, we will never forget those who fought tirelessly for this change.

Sometimes you have to look to the past to see where you are headed. Charlottesville is a reminder that the fight to rid this country of its racist ways is far from over.


Charlottesville City Council Vote To Melt Down Robert E. Lee Statue And Hire Black Artists To Rebuild New Monument

Remembering Charlottesville: A Look Back At The Deadly ‘Unite The Right’ Rally [PHOTOS]

The post When Effigies Of Hate Burn: Robert E. Lee Statue Melted Down In Charlottesville appeared first on NewsOne.

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