“We should all be proud of this important step forward for our Commonwealth and our country,” Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said in a statement Monday (December 21).
His announcement comes as workers took down the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in the day’s early morning hours after standing 111 years in the US Capitol building to represent the state.
“The Confederacy is a symbol of Virginia’s racist and divisive history, and it is past time we tell our story with images of perseverance, diversity, and inclusion,” Northam added.
“I look forward to seeing a trailblazing young woman of color represent Virginia in the US Capitol, where visitors will learn about Barbara Johns’ contributions to America and be empowered to create positive change in their communities just like she did.”
Barbara Johns is the niece of civil rights leader Vernon Johns. At age 16, she led a student strike for equal educational opportunities at R.R. Morton High School in Farmville, Virginia.
This year's protests against racial injustice have targeted Confederate statues and symbols as the nation reckons with its history and continued legacy of inequality.
News of the statue’s removal adds to the dialogue on race in the nation and the centuries of injustice and inequality. Legislators involved in getting the statue of Lee removed and others expressed their thoughts online.
State legislators voted unanimously to remove the statue earlier this year. Governor Northam included $500,000 to his proposed budget to commission a statue of Barbara Johns.
The statue of Lee will be housed at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in the state’s capital city Richmond.
Photos: Getty Images