*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Her Campus or Her Campus at VCU
Despite once being the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond is now just as politically liberal as any other urban city. So it comes as no surprise that Virginia Commonwealth University, which is located in the heart of Richmond, is ranked as the most liberal college in Virginia.
Regardless, Richmond is still the home to a litany of Confederate monuments, many of which are located right next to VCU’s campus. Although there are currently no official plans to tear these monuments down, the New Confederate States of America (CSA II), a group based in Tennessee, scheduled a rally for Sept. 16, with the goal of “helping the people that want to stand up for the monuments.” The assembly was set to take place at the notorious Robert E. Lee monument.
Following the fatal rally in Charlottesville, Richmond police had no choice but to expect the worst, and collaborated with VCU and state police to prepare for potential violence between protestors and counter-protestors. But when Sept. 16 came, only about a dozen pro-Confederates showed up.
Meanwhile, anti-Confederate individuals gathered by the hundreds, some at the Lee monument to directly combat CSA II, and even more at the nearby Maggie Walker monument. The mass of counter-protestors was comprised largely of VCU students, despite VCU President Rao’s warning to stay away from the rally. Eventually, the group at the Walker monument marched peacefully around the city, including on VCU’s campus.
The ratio of protestors to counter-protestors and the way in which counter-protestors responded, proved that the residents of Richmond, including VCU students, simply won’t tolerate the racist ideals of those who are fighting to keep the Confederate monuments in place.
Although many argue that taking away the monuments would be erasing history, that simply isn’t so. As several have pointed out, it is vital to decipher between simply teaching dark parts of America’s history and celebrating them. While the monuments may be appropriate inside a local museum alongside educational accounts of the individuals they portray, they most definitely do not belong on a busy street in the midst of Virginia’s capital city – a city in which many residents are the same color as the people whom those depicted in the monuments enslaved.
In a time when our own president insists that black lives don’t matter, cities like Richmond should be doing the opposite of endorsing the racist implications that these Confederate monuments exude. At the end of the day, America is better off without the horrible humans that these statues portray. The further that Richmond can separate itself from its racist past, the more unified our country will become.
All photos courtesy of Eleanor Ritzman