Fee selects civil rights icon Barbara Rose Johns to symbolize Virginia rather than Gen. Robert E. Lee in U.S. Capitol

The General Assembly will vote on the appointment of Johns’ statue to replace Confederate General Robert E. Lee

by: Kaylynn Stephens

Posted: Dec 16, 2020 / 7:43 PM ESTUpdated: December 16, 2020 / 10:50 PM EST

Barbara Rose Johns (photo courtesy Library of Virginia)

RICHMOND, Virginia (WAVY) – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that the Historic Statues Commission has voted to recommend civil rights icon Barbara Rose Johns to represent Virginia at the National Statuary Hall Collection.

John’s statue would replace the existing statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

In addition, Northam said its proposed budget is nearly $ 500,000 to replace the statue.

On April 23, 1951, 16-year-old Barbara Rose Johns led a strike at Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville, protesting the overcrowded and unfair conditions of the all-black school compared to white students at nearby Farmville High School.

Their actions sparked the assistance of NAACP attorneys Spottswood Robinson and Oliver Hill, who took their case and filed what would later become one of five cases considered by the United States Supreme Court in Brown v Topeka’s Board of Education, when he declared segregation unconstitutional.

Historians said John’s protest was a pivotal moment that sparked the desegregation movement in America.

“As a teenager, Barbara Johns bravely led a protest that defied segregation and challenged and ultimately dismantled the barriers she and her African-American counterparts faced,” Northam said.

Northam signed a bill that year establishing the Historic Statues Commission at the United States Capitol to decide to investigate the removal and replacement of the Robert E. Lee statue.

The eight-member commission, chaired by Senator L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), unanimously approved the removal of the statue on July 24, 2020.

“The commission went through a very thorough and deliberate process of choosing a historical figure who represented the values ​​of today’s Virginians,” said Lucas.

“During every step of the selection process, we heard the thoughts and opinions of the public as well as our various committee members. I am proud of the decision we have made as the Commonwealth, ”said Del. Jeion Ward, another member.

The Robert E. Lee statue is slated to be removed from the United States Capitol in the coming days.

The commission said it would continue its work to select a sculptor and commission a statue of Barbara Johns.

In response to Northam’s announcement, US Senses Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both of Virginia, released statements Wednesday evening.

“Brave, patriotic, and groundbreaking, Barbara Johns represents the best of Virginia. Her statue will serve as evidence of the power of young people who stand up for themselves, their peers and their constitutional rights. ‘And have a little child lead them.’ “

It is. Tim Kaine

Barbara Johns bravely led a protest that defied segregation and challenged the barriers she and her African American counterparts faced. She will represent the best of our Commonwealth in the US Capitol.

Senator Mark Warner

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