US House of Representatives votes to remove Confederate statues

The legislation, entitled H.R. 7573, would remove statues from The U.S. Capitol of individuals who 'voluntarily served the Confederacy'

A statue of Uriah M. Rose, an Arkansas judge and supporter of the Confederacy, is2 on display in Statuary Hall inside the U.S. Capitol (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The United States House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to remove all Confederate statues from the Capitol. 

The effort, part of a nationwide push to remove historical symbols of racism from public spaces, comes following the global unrest in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. 

READ MORE: Judge blocks removal of more Confederate statues in Richmond

The bipartisan vote passed 305 to 113. 

Rep. Barbara Lee, the California Democrat who co-sponsored the bill, said, “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.”

She continued, “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, entitled H.R. 7573, would remove statues from The U.S. Capitol of individuals who “voluntarily served the Confederacy.” 

There are 12 Confederate statues in the Capitol collection.

Should this bill pass in the Senate, each state would be mandated to retrieve statues that they donated to the collection that are of supporters of slavery or The Confederate States of America. They would also have to replace the statues with someone else more inclusive.

The collection includes a bust of Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, the man who delivered the opinion in the Dred Scott case which stated that slaves were not American citizens. The bust will be replaced with one of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. 

The other statues specifically mentioned in the bill include two former vice-presidents, John C. Calhoun and John C. Breckinridge, former governor Charles Brantley Alcock, and former senator, John-Paul Clarke. All four men were either the Confederate sympathizers or touted white supremacist ideals.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Writes Letter Asking Congress Remove 11 Confederate Statues From U.S. Capitol
Statues of Jefferson Finis Davis (2nd L), president of the Confederate States from 1861-1865, and Uriah M. Rose (L), an Arkansas county judge and supporter of the Confederacy.
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Some states have already taken steps to remove these reminders of “Ole’ Dixie.” According to Politico, states like Georgia and Mississippi have not.

In Statuary Hall, representing the Peach State is Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy. Also in the hallway is a statue of Mississippi’s Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president. As disturbing as it seems, there has been considerable bi-partisan discussion around replacing the Stephens statue with one of the recently deceased civil rights leader, John Lewis. Lewis transitioned on Friday, July 17.

According to The New York Times, the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate. 

72 Republicans supported the bill, while most maintain that the statues should not be destroyed, but placed in museums. 

“The history of this nation is so fraught with racial division, with hatred,” said Michigan Republican, Rep. Paul Mitchell. “The only way to overcome that is to recognize that, acknowledge it for what it is.”

READ MORE: Pentagon bans Confederate flag in way to avoid Trump’s wrath

Rep. Karen Bass of California said, “Imagine what it feels like as an African American to know that my ancestors built the Capitol, but yet there are monuments to the very people that enslaved my ancestors.” 

Bass, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus continued, “Statues are not just historical markers but are tributes, a way to honor an individual. These individuals do not deserve to be honored.”

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