Update ~ July 27, 1999
  Update ~ July 15, 1999
  Update ~ July 13, 1999

Update ~ July 12, 1999
  Update ~ July 8, 1999
  Update ~ July 1, 1999


June 4, 1999

Sa'ad El-Amin
Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin
Thanks to a protest led by a lone member of the Richmond City Council, a portrait of General Robert E. Lee slated to hang along the city's new Canal Walk has been removed as "offensive to some members of the community."

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 conception
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:

Click HERE to read a story about the committee
Stephen R. Adkins
Assistant chief, Chickahominy Tribe
7240 Adkins Rd.
Charles City, VA 23030

Tommy Baer
Former president, B'nai B'rith International
5500 Monument Ave.
Richmond, VA 23226
(804) 673-6600

Del. Viola Baskerville (D-Richmond)
3223 Hawthorne Ave.
Richmond, VA 23222
(804) 698-1171

Rev. Dr. Paige Chargois
National assistant director for Hope in Cities
8314 Fulham Ct.
Richmond, VA 23227
(804) 261-6501

Dr. Renard A. Charity
Civic leader and Richmond physician
101 Cowardin Ave.
Richmond, VA 23224

Father Constantine Dombalis
Dean Emeritus, Greek Orthodox Cathedral
304 Sandlewood Dr.
Richmond, VA 23229

C. Hobson Goddin
Lay Civil War historian and attorney
2124 Stuart Ave.
Richmond, VA 23220

Del. Dwight C. Jones, D-Richmond
Pastor, First Baptist Church
1501 Decatur St.
Richmond, VA 23224
(804) 233-7679

Mayor Timothy Kaine
Mayor of Richmond
1111 E. Main St.
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 780-7977

Melvin Law
Chairman, Richmond Crusade for Voters
3505 Montrose Ave.
Richmond, VA 23222
(804) 321-1924

Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, D-Richmond
State senator
3211 Q St.
Richmond, VA 23223
(804) 648-9073

Dr. William W. Martin
Community volunteer and physician
29 Willway Ave.
Richmond, VA 23226
(804) 323-7575

Mary Tyler McClenahan
Civic leader
Board chairwoman, Richmond Cruade for Voters
4703 Pocahontas Ave.
Richmond, VA 23226
(804) 359-4376

Rev. Ralph Reavis
Pastor, Riverview Baptist Church
Professor of history, Virginia Union University
3706 W. Weyburn Rd.
Richmond, VA 23235
(804) 320-0807

Robert W. Shinn
Retired pastor, Fourth Baptist Church
c/o CSX Corp.
901 East Cary St.
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 782-1400

Rev. Robert Taylor
c/o Fourth Baptist Church
2800 P. St.
Richmond, VA 23223
(804) 266-5443

Richard Tilghman
Chairman and CEO, Crestar Financial
5104 Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23226
(804) 273-7737

Anne Marie Whittemore
Former chairwoman, Fifth District Federal Reserve Bank
1 Huntley Rd.
Richmond, VA 23226
(804) 775-4359 (W); (804) 285-4632 (H)

Sylvia Wood
State employee
Volunteer chairwoman, Richmond Branch NAACP
c/o Richmond Branch, NAACP
214 E. Clay St.
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 644-9337

[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
(804) 648-6549
[snail-mail address will be posted when available]

James J. McCarthy
Executive Director

Brenton Halsey


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
State Capitol
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Phone: (804) 786-2211
Fax: (804) 371-6351
E-mail: http://www.state.va.us/governor/govmail.htm

John H. Hager, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
900 E. Main Street, Suite 1400
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 786-2078
TDD Phone Number: 1-800-828-1120
Fax Number: (804) 786-7514

To sign an on-line petition protesting the General's removal from the floodwall, click HERE.
Please be patient; it loads slowly.
Your opinion CAN make a difference! Click HERE to read a Richmond Times-Dispatch article on the impact your complaints have had!


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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