The great, great-grandsons of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson just wrote a letter to the mayor of Richmond, Virginia, urging he and the city remove the statues of their ancestor.
William Jackson Christian and Warren Edmund Christian, the closest living relatives to the famous general, asked the mayor and the city “for the removal of his statue, as well as the removal of all Confederate statues from Monument Avenue.”
The statues, including those of their great, great-grandfather, “are overt symbols of racism and white supremacy, and the time is long overdue for them to depart from public display,” they wrote.
The grandsons also disagreed vehemently with Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who suggested that removal of the statues would do nothing to further the dialogue on racism in our nation. “In our view, the removal of the Jackson statue and others will necessarily further difficult conversations about racial justice,” they said. “It will begin to tell the truth of us all coming to our senses.”
They also suggested that Confederate statues present a “pre-existing iconography for racists,” citing the violence that erupted when white supremacists came to defend similar monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend. The chaos resulted in several violent attacks by white nationalists, including a purposeful vehicular attack by a supremacist that resulted in the death of one individual, Heather Heyer, and injuring nearly 20 others.
William Christian and Edmund Christian further wrote that they wished to stand on the right side of history rather than support their ancestor’s image. They even suggested a different person to emulate — Stonewall Jackson’s sister, Laura Jackson Arnold.
“As an adult Laura became a staunch Unionist and abolitionist,” the grandsons write. “Though she and Stonewall were incredibly close through childhood, she never spoke to Stonewall after his decision to support the Confederacy. We choose to stand on the right side of history with Laura Jackson Arnold.”
The Christians end their letter by calling for conversations to begin on repairing racial injustices. “[O]ur sense of justice leads us to believe that removing the Stonewall statue and other monuments should be part of a larger project of actively mending the racial disparities that hundreds of years of white supremacy have wrought,” they write.
William and Edmund Christian’s open letter appears in full on Slate.
Many individuals have suggested the monuments need to be removed. Mayors and other leaders across the country have begun removing several statues that commemorate Confederate leaders. President Trump, however, came out this morning in support of keeping the statues in place.