Charlottesville is taking a radical approach to removing a Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee. The small town will allow Black artists to melt the statue and transform it into something else.
On Tuesday, The Guardian reports that the City Council voted on how to best deal with the disposed statue that was the center of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally. The statue will now be donated to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, where it will be melted down and turned into a new piece of public art.
“Our hope with ‘Swords into Plowshares’ is to create something that transforms what was once toxic in our public space into something beautiful that can be more reflective of our entire community’s social values,” said the center’s Executive Director Andrea Douglas.
“We’re giving people opportunities to engage with our own narratives and our own histories. This project offers a road map for other communities to do the same.”
The center plans to use a “community engagement process” to spread awareness on the new art piece that has already raised $590,000 in supportive relief.
The debate over removing the Confederate statute started the Unite the Right rally in August 2017, NRP reports. The protest soon turned into a riot after counterprotesters disrupted the neo-Nazi rally. Thirty-two-year-old Heather Heyer lost her life after a man plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters.
The statue was finally taken down in July 2020. Meanwhile, Richmond, Virginia, is still debating what to do with its statue of Lee that was removed in September.
Gov. Ralph Northam initially decided to keep the original pedestal of the statue in place when it was removed. But on Sunday, Northam expressed his change of heart and announced the 40-foot pedestal would be removed by the end of the year.