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House Votes to Remove Confederate Statues From U.S. Capitol

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tags: Congress, racism, Confederacy, monuments



WASHINGTON — The House voted on Wednesday to banish from the Capitol statues of Confederate figures and leaders who pushed white supremacist agendas, part of a broader effort to remove historical symbols of racism and oppression from public spaces.

The bipartisan vote, 305 to 113, came amid a national discussion about racism and justice that has led to the toppling of Confederate statues across the country and left lawmakers scrutinizing how their predecessors are honored in their own halls. Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month ordered that the portraits of four speakers who served the Confederacy be removed from the ornate hall just outside the House chamber.

“These painful symbols of bigotry and racism — they have no place in our society, and certainly should not be enshrined in the United States Capitol,” said Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California and a co-sponsor of the bill. “It’s past time that we end the glorification of men who committed treason against the United States in a concerted effort to keep African-Americans in chains.”

The legislation, spearheaded by Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, would mandate the removal of “all statues of individuals who voluntarily served” the Confederacy. It specifically identifies five statues for removal, including a bust of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who delivered the majority Supreme Court opinion in the landmark Dred Scott v. Sandford case, which ruled that slaves were not American citizens and could not sue in federal court. Mr. Hoyer’s bill would replace the bust with one of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice.

Also targeted for removal are the statues of John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, the former vice president who led the pro-slavery faction in the Senate; John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, a former vice president who served as the Confederate secretary of war and was expelled from the Senate for joining for the Confederate Army; Charles Brantley Aycock, the former governor of North Carolina and an architect of a violent coup d’état in Wilmington led by white supremacists; and James Paul Clarke, a senator and governor of Arkansas who extolled the need to “preserve the white standards of civilization.”

Read entire article at The New York Times

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