Charlottesville Makes a Call on Its Robert E. Lee Statue

Monument will be melted down to be made into arts project by local nonprofit
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2021 7:27 AM CST
Charlottesville Makes a Call on Its Robert E. Lee Statue
Workers prepare to remove the Robert E. Lee statue on July 10, 2021, in Charlottesville, Va.   (AP Photo/John C. Clark, File)

(Newser) – It hasn't been clear what would happen to Charlottesville's Robert E. Lee statue, after it was hoisted off its stone pedestal in July, but the City Council has now made its decision: A local Black-led nonprofit will melt down the controversial Confederate monument and turn it into a public arts project called "Swords Into Plowshares," reports NPR. "Our hope ... 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 value," Andrea Douglas, the head of the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, says in a statement.

The Washington Post notes that the City Council had been mulling for months what to do with the 1,100-pound statue, which had been the center of protests that led to 2017's white supremacist Unite the Right rally in the city. The City Council voted unanimously to give the statue to the only local bidder out of a half-dozen proposals submitted by various arts and historical groups, among others. Douglas' center will ask for input in the coming months from Charlottesville residents on what the guidelines for the eventual art piece should be; a convened jury will select the final concept, which will be placed on public land by 2024. (Read more climate change stories.)

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