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Confederate Statues: No Easy Answers in Richmond

Confederate Statues: No Easy Answers in Richmond Read Transcript


The city of Richmond, Virginia,

could be considered ground zero in the national debate

over Confederate statues.

It's the former home, the capitol, of the Confederacy,

and it also has five Confederate statues, all of which

are lined up here on the famous Monument Avenue.

There was a desire to create and to make

it a modern city, modeled on some European versions.

They wanted a grand boulevard.

HEATHER SELLS: Christy Coleman heads the American Civil War

Museum here and co-chairs the city commission to figure out

what to do with Richmond's Confederate statues.

Coleman says real estate developers created Monument

Avenue in the late 1800s.

Over the objections of black city council members,

they erected a statue of General Robert E. Lee,

hoping to learn new residents.

In the process, she says, they re-asserted white supremacy.

Eventually, the city erected five Confederate statues,

and the neighborhood boomed.

Flash forward to 2017 and a new African-American mayor.

Not only are those statues are offensive to me,

they're offensive to a number of people.

HEATHER SELLS: Mayor Stoney took a fresh step

and created the commission.

Its charge, add context and historical balance

to the statues.

Now, after Charlottesville, he's adjusted course.

We're going to expand the conversation

and put removal on the table.

CHRISTY COLEMAN: After what happened in Charlottesville,

the winds changed about how long are we

going to deal with these images in our society,

that regardless of what they initially or originally were

intended to do have become symbols of divisiveness,

hatred, and white supremacy.

What are we going to do with those?

HEATHER SELLS: There's no easy answer,

and many here are wrestling with that.

This is not a monument you're going to move into a museum.

It's gigantic.

Theoretically, it's possible.

But I think it needs to be re-framed in some way.

HEATHER SELLS: Others, like lifelong Richmonder Pam Patrom,

simply want the statues to go away.

This is not my history.

This is part of something that conquer and divide us.

So I'm not a fan of the statues at all.

HEATHER SELLS: Debbie Killebrew is a fan, and she's worried.

If they start tearing it down, what's next?

HEATHER SELLS: On Thursday, the president

tweeted his fears that the U.S. Will

lose its Confederate statues.

On Monument Avenue, many locals and tourists

rushed to take pictures, wondering what might happen.

Ultimately, Mayor Stoney and the city council

will accept commission recommendations

and make a decision.

For now, Christy Coleman is urging calm.

What is absolutely needed is reflection.

We need to breathe for a moment.

We need to reflect.

And we need to find spaces where we

can come to reasoned conclusions about all of this.

Because none of it is easy.

HEATHER SELLS: Reporting in Richmond,

Heather Sells, CBN News.

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