To: Kenneth Cooper Alexander, Mayor, Andria McClellan, Andria P. McClellan Superward 6, The Virginia State House, The Virginia State Senate, and Governor Ralph Northam
Norfolk-Virginia Confederate Monument Removal and Recommendation
After the horrendous display of racism, bigotry, and white supremacy in Charlottesville, we, the citizens of the City of Norfolk, take a stand against white nationalism by removing one of its symbols, the Confederate monument.
On top of a white, Vermont granite base stands a 15-foot figure of a Confederate soldier. The monument commemorates the last reunion of surviving Confederate soldiers and is found on Main Street in Downtown Norfolk.
We, the Citizens of the City of Norfolk, want the Confederate monument removed from downtown Norfolk on Main Street. After it is removed, we suggest placing the Confederate monument in a museum where exhibits and conversations can occur in a thoughtful, informed manner. We recommend replacing the Confederate monument with a new monument to serve as a celebration racial and cultural diversity.
Why is this important?
In light of recent events, we feel as Norfolk citizens that to display in public areas these memorials is not only antiquated but provokes discrimination and violence. This memorial commemorates a time in our nation’s history when Americans clashed geographically and ideologically.
The Confederacy was established with the intention of creating a division within the United States - to form a new nation. We see in retrospect that a nation cannot survive when there is division within. In addition to this horrible time of pitting the North against the South, racial discrimination reached a fervor that carried over into the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. We are on the precipice of another such movement.
The monument commemorates the last reunion of surviving Confederate soldiers. Unveiled in May 1907, the soldier was created by Norfolk artist William Couper. According to the Timeline of African American History compiled by the Library of Congress, during the years between 1905 and 1910, 344 black Americans are known to have been lynched. On December 19th, 1910 the City Council of Baltimore approved the first city ordinance designating the boundaries of black and white neighborhoods. This ordinance was followed by similar ones in Dallas, Texas, Greensboro, North Carolina, Louisville, Kentucky, Norfolk, Virginia, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Richmond, Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia, and St. Louis, Missouri.
Recent domestic terrorism in Charlottesville reveals that we stand just as divided as in the Civil War. The removal of such a monument in Charlottesville prompted a violent and fatal response from white supremacist organizations, who today are vowing to organize more such demonstrations. As long as these memorials exist, so do the discriminatory ideologies.
Call to Action
If the City of Norfolk truly values diversity, then the city will listen to its citizens and fight vigorously for the removal of this monument. We are not asking for these memorials to be destroyed. We cannot erase history and as decisive a time as the CIvil War was, we accept that it is part of the fabric of America’s tapestry. Rather, we suggest placing it in a museum where it can be properly understood in the accurate historical context.
Please sign below so our representatives can see all our signatures. Our community, our city, does not want this tribute to slavery and Jim Crow encroaching on our space. We recognize that this will not be an easy process. After seeing our signatures, we hope that our representatives will begin work on repealing and/or amending Memorials for war veterans Virginia Code § 15.2-1812. Once that process is complete, cities across the state of Virginia can determine for themselves whether these Confederate memorials are appropriate for their public spaces. By signing this petition, you are saying there is no space for hate, racism, white supremacy, and bigotry in the City of Norfolk.
** Please feel free to sign even if you do not live in the City of Norfolk because we want all Virginia representatives to hear our voices ***
Library of Congress