Robert E. Lee Statue Secretly Melted Down by Charlottesville’s Black History Museum

Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, VA. Photo © Mtdozier23 | Dreamstime.com

The Robert E. Lee statue, which became a focal point for the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, has been secretly melted down.

The statue was removed in July 2021 after the city council decided to take it down, amidst national uproar in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Washington Post reported that the statue was discreetly cut into fragments and dissolved in a furnace at an undisclosed Southern foundry. This move was taken secretly due to concerns of potential backlash.

Patriot groups that included white supremacists had fervently protested the statue’s removal, culminating in the 2017 ‘Unite the Right’ rally.

Charlottesville’s black history museum subsequently acquired the statue and decided to melt it down. “Well, they can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again,” remarked Andrea Douglas, the museum’s executive director.

Bronze ingots, sourced from the Lee statue, will be repurposed by a group called ‘Swords Into Plowshares’ to create a public artwork, which will be showcased in Charlottesville.

The owner of the foundry, an unidentified Black man, expressed that it was a privilege to undertake this task.

“The risk is being targeted by people of hate… But when you are approached with such an honor, especially to destroy hate, you have to do it. It’s time to dismantle this hate,” he shared.

Martin Mawyer, president of Christian Action Network, said, “Melting down the statue is another example of cancel culture in action. And doing it in secret not only displays cowardness but does nothing but contribute to a culture of embarrassing censorship and lack of transparency. Regardless of one’s stance on Robert E. Lee, it’s important to preserve the past in order to understand it.”

The Lee statue’s removal comes after a tumultuous period, which saw pro-history patriots rallying around it in May and August 2017, resulting in violent clashes with radical counter-protesters.

The unrest culminated in the tragic death of Heather Heyer, who was killed by white supremacist James Alex Fields, Jr., as he drove his car into a crowd.

In Richmond, another statue of General Lee was removed in September 2021. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered its removal, calling it a step toward healing and inclusiveness. A monument celebrating Virginia’s African Americans who championed emancipation now stands just two miles away, symbolizing the state’s journey toward a more confined view of history.

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