Civil Rights Leader & C'Ville Community Members have New Plan for Confederate Monuments
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - With the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson staying put, some community members are coming together with their own plan to deal with the controversial figures. The proposal, for now, only deals with the Robert E. Lee statue.
The Confederate general would stay put, but additional statues would be added to provide more historical context.
Eugene Williams was a central figure in the fight to desegregate Charlottesville Public Schools. Now 91, he has a proposal to take Robert E. Lee off the pedestal, literally, without removing the statue from Market Street Park.
"All my life I've seen the Robert E. Lee statue and surely I don't carry good thoughts about it - but the most important thing is history,” said Williams.
Williams assembled a working group of community members and businessmen to complete the plan. The group met where they usually do, on the Williams’ front porch.
"It was just a natural thing. I saw the trouble started, and I wanted to know what he thought. He has very strong opinions about it,” said Biff Rossberg, a working group member.
The Williams’ have been fighting for civil rights in Charlottesville for more than 60 years. He doesn't want to see the Robert E. Lee statue in Market Street Park removed.
"It's significant enough, I think, for it to remain. At the same time, we have had African Americans equally as important during that period of time. So it's for us, I think, to do research and put statues of Blacks, African-Americans in the same park, complementary to Robert E Lee's statue,” said Williams.
"So many people who made this country, who might look more like some of the children who don't feel at all enfranchised, and we need to get them there. That was Mr. Williams' vision, to fill out the picture,” said Bob Kirchman, a working group member.
The plan would put the Robert E. Lee statue on the ground and leave the base to be used as a platform for public speakers. Lee would be joined by other historical figures like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Benjamin Banneker.
Statues of a Confederate soldier and Cherokee Confederate general Stand Watie would also be added.
“Peace doesn't come about - just by accident. There's so much back and forth and anger in so many places in our community. We're just trying to hear everybody out,” said Rosberg.
The group says the next step is to present the plan to the city council. As of right now, there's no timetable for that presentation.