Monument Avenue in Richmond

Monument Avenue has five monuments highlighting Confederate leaders that were installed between 1890-1929, plus one statue of Arthur Ashe installed in 1996:

J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue in Richmond

Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond

Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue in Richmond

Stonewall Jackson on Monument Avenue in Richmond

Mathew Fontaine Maury on Monument Avenue in Richmond

Arthur Ashe on Monument Avenue in Richmond

The National Park Service description of the Monument Avenue Historic District states:1

Monument Avenue is the nationís only grand residential boulevard with monuments of its scale surviving almost unaltered to the present day.

Monuments that commemorated and celebrated Confederate leaders helped Richmond maintain its reputation as the capital of the Confederacy, but not all residents were happy with that focus. The racial mix of the city affected perspectives, and by 2017 only 40% of the population identified theselves as "White alone, not Hispanic or Latino."2

The murder of nine people in a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015 spurred local leaders to re-examine how to acknowledge the past, without giving Confederate memorials their historicaly-dominant position in public spaces across Virginia. Richmond mayor Levar Stoney established a Monument Avenue Commission in June, 2017. He charged it to hold public forums to obtain feedback.

The original plan was for the commission to explore how to expand interpretation of existing monuments, and potentially add new monuments to dilute the focus on Confederate leaders. After the Unite the Right rally in Charottesville resulted in vilence and death of a demonstrator and two state policemen in August, that mission was expanded to consider removing monuments.3

Adding monuments was not a new idea. A statue of Arthur Ashe, a tennis champion from Richmond who had overcome the constraints of segregated tennis facilities, had been added to Monument Avenue in 1996. In 2017, the head of the Danville chapter of the Heritage Preservation Association was still opposed to honoring Ashe with a statue in that location, claiming that in 1996:4

City Council just wanted to put a black person on Monument Avenue, feeling like it was striking back. Ashe was being used as a pawn in a game of politics.

The commission's July, 2018 report recommended removing the statue of Jefferson Davis, who was not from Virginia, and adding signage at other monuments to provide a broader range of perspectives on what the statues represent.5

Confederate Monuments in Virginia

History-Oriented Tourism

Links

References

1. "Monument Avenue Historic District," National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/richmond/monumentavehd.html (last checked April 21, 2019)
2. "Richmond city, Virginia," QuickFacts, Bureau of Census, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/richmondcityvirginia/PST045218# (last checked April 21, 2019)
3. "Monument Avenue Commission Report," Monument Avenue Commission, July 2, 2018, https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/richmond.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/8d/98dfbab1-3a10-52d4-ab47-f4a2d9550084/5b3a9346537e5.pdf.pdf (last checked April 21, 2019)
4. "The History of the Arthur Ashe Monument in Richmond," Richmond Style Weekly, August 22, 2017, https://www.styleweekly.com/richmond/the-history-of-the-arthur-ashe-monument-in-richmond/Content?oid=4237161 (last checked April 21, 2019)
5. "How Richmond is addressing the debate over Confederate monuments 1 year after Charlottesville," ABC News, August 3, 2018, https://abcnews.go.com/US/richmond-addressing-debate-confederate-monuments-year-charlottesville/story?id=57009869; "Monument Avenue Commission Report," Monument Avenue Commission, July 2, 2018, https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/richmond.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/9/8d/98dfbab1-3a10-52d4-ab47-f4a2d9550084/5b3a9346537e5.pdf.pdf (last checked April 21, 2019)


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