Monument Avenue

"[Confederate statues] were designed to rewrite history, to essentially justify the rise of racial apartheid and segregation, and the racial apartheid and segregation of the 20th century has cast a very long shadow over America in the 21st century." —Julian Hayter, associate professor of leadership studies

In 1890, twenty-five years after the end of the Civil War, Richmond unveiled a 12-ton, 21-foot-high statue of Robert E. Lee, the first Confederate on what became Monument Avenue. John Mitchell, Jr., editor of the African-American newspaper The Richmond Planet, wrote, "The South may revere the memory of its chieftains . . . It serves to retard its progress in the country and forges heavier chains with which to be bound." Monuments to J. E. B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, and Matthew Fontaine Maury followed as part of the Lost Cause narrative.

In June 2017, Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney announced the formation of a commission to determine what to do with Richmond's Confederate monuments, and the Monument Avenue Commission Report was then released in July 2018. The report sparked conversations across the region about the future of Monument Avenue, and The Valentine and Storefront for Community Design hosted a design competition to reimagine Monument Avenue.

Protests over police brutality and racism led to the removal of the J. E. B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, and Matthew Fontaine Maury monuments, and Richmond City Coucil voted unanimously to keep them down. There is currently a lawsuit against the removal of the state-owned Robert E. Lee Monument at Marcus-David Peters Circle.