While Charlottesville’s monument of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is set to be melted down and transformed into new local art, Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson will be sent to California.
At its Monday meeting, Charlottesville City Council voted for LAXART, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit arts organization, to take the bronze relic. The organization plans to collaborate with the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art for a planned 2023 exhibit in MOCA’s facilities.
LAXART will pay $50,000 dollars to Charlottesville to acquire the statue.
According to the proposal, the exhibit will feature a series of decommissioned Confederate monuments alongside contemporary pieces of art. While the Lee statue is set to be melted down locally and gifted to the city, LAXART plans to incorporate Jackson into its forthcoming exhibit, titled MONUMENTS, as the “centerpiece of the exhibition.”
LAXART also wanted the Lee statue. The group’s proposal planned to use Lee in the same exhibit as Jackson. However, Council voted to give Lee to Jefferson School African American Heritage Center instead. The heritage center’s proposal for Lee – accepted at the Dec. 6 meeting – is to conduct “community engagement” on what the melted bronze should become before selecting an artist and giving it back to the city.
Following the summer removal of both Lee and Stonewall, the city accepted proposals from groups and individuals interested in taking the statues until Oct. 15. State law required localities to field such offers before making any decisions about their dispositions.
Virginia localities have disposed of their removed Confederate monuments in a variety of ways.
In neighboring Albemarle County, its Johnny Reb statue ended up in Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation. An Isle of Wight monument ended up on a Sons of Confederate Veteran member’s property. Many ended up in cemeteries or remain in storage while their localities continue deliberating what to do.
The monumental history
- 1904: The General Assembly passes a law allowing for the construction and protection of war memorials. Initially, it only applies to counties and only covers Confederate monuments
- 1921: Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson statue erected in what is now Court Square Park
- 1924: Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee statue erected in what is now Market Street Park
- 1997: War memorial law extended to include cities
- 2016: Zyahna Bryant, then a student at Charlottesville High School, petitions the City Council for the removal of the statue of Lee and the renaming of Lee Park
- 2017: The Charlottesville City Council to votes for the removal of both the Lee and Jackson statues
- A lawsuit is filed to halt the city’s plans to remove the statue, citing state law
- White supremacists come to Charlottesville throughout the summer, culminating in the deadly Aug. 12 rally
- 2019: A judge rules that the City Council statue vote was in violation of state law, grants an injunction barring their removal
- Democrats take control of the General Assembly, setting the stage for altering the state law barring the removal of war memorials
- 2020: The plaintiffs in the suit are awarded more than $300,000 in attorney’s fees; the city appeals the decision
- General Assembly passes legislation granting localities authority of their monuments to take effect July 1
- Plaintiffs in the lawsuit against removal of Charlottesville’s statues request part of the injunction be dissolved
- Albemarle County removes a Confederate monument from its portion of Court Square
- 2021: Supreme Court of Virginia upholds the legality of Charlottesville’s 2017 vote to remove Confederate monuments
- Following their July removal, in December, Charlottesville gives Lee statue to Jefferson School African American Heritage Center and the Jackson statue to LAXART
Clarification: An earlier version of this story said that the Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials, and Public Spaces was among the events that compelled City Council to remove Charlottesville’s Confederate Monuments. Their 2016 report “identified a list of basic concepts, parameters, opportunities, and constraints for each option in the hope that these ideas will assist council in their decision.” These included a discussion of relocation within the city and transforming the statues where they stood. From the report: “The commission ultimately chose to recommend sending both the Relocate and Transform-in-Place options to council for deliberation.” We’ve removed that sentence to be more precise.