WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced a bicameral bill in the Senate and House to remove Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol. The Confederate Monument Removal Act would remove all statues of people who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from the National Statuary Hall Collection within 120 days.
“The National Statuary Hall Collection is intended to honor American patriots who served, sacrificed, or made tremendous contributions to our nation,” Senator Booker said. “Those who committed treason against the United States of America and led our nation into its most painful and bloody war are not patriots and should not be afforded such a rare honor in this sacred space.
Booker continued, “The Capitol is a place for all Americans to come and feel welcomed, encouraged, and inspired. Confederate statues do not do this -- they do the opposite. To millions of Americans, they are painful, injurious symbols of bigotry and hate, celebrating individuals who sought to break our nation asunder and preserve the vile institution of slavery. These Confederate statues belong in a museum where they can be given proper historical context, not venerated in the U.S. Capitol." (Audio of this quote can be found here).
“In the wake of Charlottesville, it’s abundantly clear that much work remains to root out racism from our society. Across the country, Confederate statues and monuments pay tribute to white supremacy and slavery in public spaces. These hateful symbols should have no place in our society and they certainly should not be enshrined in the U.S. Capitol,” Congresswoman Barbara Lee said.
“Though we’ve made tremendous progress as a nation in our quest for social, racial and economic justice, we cannot ignore or forget that Confederates fought fervently to preserve the institution of slavery and keep African Americans in chains. It’s past time for Congress to reject these symbols of racism and demand that our public monuments respect and uplift human dignity.”
The National Statuary Hall Collection was created in 1864 with a law that allows states to select two statues of deceased individuals to be displayed in the U.S. Capitol. Under the Confederate Monument Removal Act, states can reclaim Confederate statues that are currently part of the National Statuary Hall Collection. Statues that are not reclaimed by states would be turned over to the Smithsonian.
The Confederate Monument Removal Act is cosponsored by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) and 46 members of the House of Representatives.