Nancy Pelosi calls for removal of Confederate statues in DC

 February 6, 2024

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reiterated her call for the removal of statues honoring Confederate figures, such as Jefferson Davis, from the U.S. Capitol, emphasizing that they represent hate rather than heritage.

Pelosi's demand came as President Donald Trump declared on Twitter that military bases named after Confederate generals would remain unchanged, and NASCAR announced a ban on Confederate flag displays at its events.

The renewed focus

The renewed focus on Confederate monuments follows nationwide protests against racism triggered by the death of George Floyd.

Pelosi lacks direct authority to remove the 11 Capitol statues honoring Confederates. However, she urged the Joint Committee on the Library, which shares jurisdiction with Senate Republicans, to vote for their removal.

She argued that these statues symbolize racism and cruelty, contradicting the nation's highest ideals, and should be replaced with symbols reflecting American aspirations.

Several locations targeted

The presence of Confederate statues in Capitol locations, particularly in Statuary Hall, has long been criticized by African American lawmakers as offensive.

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. notably highlighted these statues during congressional tours. However, decisions regarding which historical figures to display ultimately rest with the states.

Pelosi pointed out that figures like Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens, representing Mississippi and Georgia respectively, were charged with treason against the United States.

GOP leaders fighting back

While Pelosi previously called for the removal of these statues in 2017 following the Charlottesville rally, Republican-led Congresses at the time rejected the idea. However, during her earlier tenure as speaker, Pelosi successfully advocated for replacing a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee with one of civil rights icon Rosa Parks in Statuary Hall, relocating Lee's statue to a less prominent area of the Capitol.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the ranking Democrat on the library panel, echoed Pelosi's call for an immediate vote to remove the statues.

Senate Republicans, including Sen. Roy Blunt, chairman of the Library Committee, indicated that the law does not permit the removal of a statue from the Capitol once received. While some states have taken steps to replace statues, others are considering similar actions.

Pelosi's latest push underscores her ongoing commitment to removing Confederate symbols from public spaces and replacing them with representations that better reflect the nation's values and aspirations.

Despite Pelosi's efforts, the removal of Confederate statues remains a contentious issue, reflecting broader debates over the nation's history that the left seeks to rewrite.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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