Update ~ July 27, 1999
COUNCIL SUPPORTS MURAL OF LEE/
EL-AMIN'S PROPOSAL REJECTED
Update ~ July 15, 1999
PANEL'S DECISION DOES NOT
PLEASE EL-AMIN, NAACP
Update ~ July 13, 1999
EL-AMIN ON MURALS
Update ~ July 12, 1999
EL-AMIN TRIES NEW TACTIC
TO BLOCK GENERAL LEE
Update ~ July 8, 1999
REVISED LEE IMAGE OFFERED
FOR PUBLIC REVIEW
Update ~ July 1, 1999
PUT LEE ON FLOODWALL,
COUNCILMAN'S PROTEST REMOVES GENERAL LEE'S PORTRAIT FROM RICHMOND CANAL WALK
June 4, 1999
Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin
Sa'ad El-Amin, a Yale-educated attorney who represents Richmond's 6th District, was angered when he saw a photograph in the Richmond Times-Dispatch of workmen hanging the General's likeness along a floodwall that forms part of an outdoor museum adjacent to the Richmond Riverfront Development Corporation's Canal Walk, which opened today along the Haxall and Kanawha canals. The Lee portrait was one of 29 murals that feature famous Virginians such as Chief Powhatan, poet Edgar Allan Poe, dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and Gabriel Prosser (the leader of a pre-War slave revolt) and events including the burning of Richmond at the end of the War Between the States.
El-Amin took his complaint to Richmond Riverfront Development Corporation executive director James J. McCarthy, who met with the councilman and corporation president Brenton S. Halsey for more than three hours and eventually caved in to El-Amin's demand that the image be removed "...or we jam."
[Click HERE to read more about Councilman El-Amin and his stance on the General's likeness]
El-Amin was quoted in a June 3 Times-Dispatch article as comparing General Lee to Adolph Hitler and asserting that the hanging of Lee's image was the moral equivalent of publicly displaying Hitler's portrait in Israel. "He is offensive to the African-American community because of what he stood for," including slavery. "He is a pariah in my community." At day's end, El-Amin was claiming victory, saying "We got what we wanted. The mural's coming down."
Artist's rendering from Richmond Riverfront Development Corp. Web site
James E. Rogers, president of the Richmond Historic Riverfront Foundation, issued the following statement with regard to the removal of General Lee's likeness: "While we are disappointed in this reaction and have tried to create a balanced historical gallery, we look forward to the completion of the full gallery and obtaining broad-based community support. This is a community project, and we want all members of the community to feel good about it."
Unfortunately for Councilman El-Amin and his backers, a very large segment of the community does NOT feel good about the decision at all. Included in this group is Richmond's mayor Timothy M. Kaine, who was quoted in today's Times-Dispatch as saying that he would have opted for the General to remain on the floodwall if anyone had asked his opinion. "I was surprised. All of the decisions were made before I heard about it."
Mayor Kaine also pointed out that, 25 years ago, blacks probably would not have been included on the wall at all. "We've come a long way. To tell the history of this city, we have to be inclusive."
Speaking yesterday at a press conference called by the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), Virginia Division Commander Robert W. Barbour said, "The removal of this artwork from this project which is designed to bring people together and attract tourists to this city while showing off the rich heritage of Virginia is an affront to every right thinking person. Until the mural is returned, we urge every citizen to boycott this project...."
[Click HERE to read a statement from the Commander, Virginia Division SCV]
[Click HERE to read a statement from the President, Virginia Division UDC]
[Click HERE to read the full text of a speech made by Mrs. Mark R. Allen at the June 13 rally in support of returning General Lee's image to the floodwall]
Lieutenant Commander Henry Kidd followed Barbour's statement with the following plea: "I would ask those folks who are against this to study the man, to study the man's moral values....He was one of the greatest Americans who ever lived. He gave his talents, his life and his devotion to this country."
The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the past.
-- General Robert Edward Lee
Pointing out that Lee was not an advocate of slavery and that he fought for the South because he could not bring himself to raise his sword against his native Virginia, Kidd added, "To ignore the Confederacy is to ignore an important part of Virginia's history."
Barbour's press conference, which was held at the foot of the General's statue on Monument Avenue, was attended by members of the SCV and the United Daughters of the Confederacy's Virginia Division. Division President Mrs. John H. Gum of Churchville commented, "I fail to see how a mural depicting one of our nation's most moral, courageous and upstanding statesmen could ever be considered offensive."
At issue here is not just whether General Lee will be returned to his rightful spot along the Canal Walk floodwall. What's at stake is nothing less than the future of our heritage and our heroes. If Councilman El-Amin's attack on one of Virginia's noblest sons is allowed to go unchallenged, what will be the next target of those so blinded by hatred that they would rewrite history to exclude all reference to the brave men and women of the Confederacy?
You are urged to contact any or all of the following and let your voice be heard:
MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE
Click HERE to read a story about the committee
Stephen R. Adkins
Assistant chief, Chickahominy Tribe
7240 Adkins Rd.
Charles City, VA 23030
Del. Viola Baskerville (D-Richmond)
Rev. Dr. Paige Chargois
Dr. Renard A. Charity
Father Constantine Dombalis
C. Hobson Goddin
Del. Dwight C. Jones, D-Richmond
Mayor Timothy Kaine
Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, D-Richmond
Dr. William W. Martin
Community volunteer and physician
29 Willway Ave.
Richmond, VA 23226
Mary Tyler McClenahan
Rev. Ralph Reavis
Robert W. Shinn
Rev. Robert Taylor
Anne Marie Whittemore
[Thanks to Janet Randolph Chapter member Pat Wood and J.E.B. Stuart Camp Commander Rob Pettus
for providing the contact information for this listing.]
Richmond Historic Riverfront Foundation
101 Shockoe Slip, Suite 0
Richmond, VA 23219
Telephone: (804) 697-3500
FAX: (804) 697-3535 [preferred method of communication]
Richmond Riverfront Development Corporation
[snail-mail address will be posted when available]
City Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin
Office telephone: (804) 264-2375
Voice-mail: (804) 780-5408
FAX: (804) 264-2896 4221 Chamberlayne Avenue
Richmond, VA 23227
Timothy Kaine, Mayor of Richmond
James S. Gilmore III, Governor of Virginia
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Phone: (804) 786-2211
Fax: (804) 371-6351
John H. Hager, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
900 E. Main Street, Suite 1400
Richmond, Virginia 23219
TDD Phone Number: 1-800-828-1120
Fax Number: (804) 786-7514
Please remember to write as a concerned private citizen, not as a Daughter of the Confederacy. You do not speak for the UDC but for yourself only.
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