Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) have co-sponsored a bill to remove all Confederate statues from the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. Along with Booker and Lee are Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) and 46 members of the House of Representatives.
The National Statuary Hall Collection was created by law in 1864 to allow states to have two statues of deceased individuals on display in the U.S. Capitol. Under the Confederate Monument Removal Act, the states with Confederate statues can reclaim them. Any statues not reclaimed by states would be turned over to the Smithsonian Institution.
In a statement Sen. Booker said, “The National Statuary Hall Collection is intended to honor American patriots who served, sacrificed, or made tremendous contributions to our nation. Those who actively fought against the Union and promoted its disintegration do not meet that standard and should not be celebrated as part of the collection. Further, their portrayal in the Capitol completely ignores the context in which Confederate statues were initially constructed across the country – as a deliberate symbol of white supremacy and defiance of federal authority in the post-Reconstruction era. For millions of Americans, they are painful symbols of bigotry and hate. There is nothing to gain from sanitizing our history – the stain of slavery and segregation will always be a part of our country’s checkered past. However, it’s a disservice to all Americans to venerate in the sacred space of the U.S. Capitol those who took up arms in order to tear this country apart. Confederate statues belong in a museum, not in the U.S. Capitol”
Congresswoman Lee said, “In the wake of Charlottesville, it’s abundantly clear that much work remains to root out racism from our society. Across the country, Confederate statues and monuments pay tribute to white supremacy and slavery in public spaces. These hateful symbols should have no place in our society and they certainly should not be enshrined in the U.S. Capitol. Though we’ve made tremendous progress as a nation in our quest for social, racial and economic justice, we cannot ignore or forget that Confederates fought fervently to preserve the institution of slavery and keep African Americans in chains. It’s past time for Congress to reject these symbols of racism and demand that our public monuments respect and uplift human dignity.”
Top photo: The National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol (Wikipedia)
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