House minority leader Nancy Pelosi called for the removal of Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol building Thursday.
“The halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy,” Pelosi said. “The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation. The Confederate statues in the halls of Congress have always been reprehensible. If Republicans are serious about rejecting white supremacy, I call upon Speaker Ryan to join Democrats to remove the Confederate statues from the Capitol immediately.”
Pelosi’s statement comes as President Donald Trump sent out a series of tweets Thursday morning in defense of Confederate statues and monuments. Local leaders around the country have been calling for the removal of Confederate monuments following the violence surrounding a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where groups gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.
“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” Trump tweeted. “You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!
There are a number of statues of men with connection to the confederacy on display in the capitol. North Carolina sent a statue of Zebulon Vance to be displayed, Florida sent a statue of Edmund Kirby Smith, the last Confederate general to surrender, Alabama sent a statue of Confederate cavalryman Joseph Wheeler, South Carolina sent a statue of Wade Hampton, Georgia sent a statue of Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens. In 1931, Mississippi chose both Confederate president Jefferson Davis and Confederate colonel James Z. Georg, according to The Washington Post.
Nancy Pelosi mentioned in her statement that when she was speaker of the house she successfully had Robert E. Lee’s relocated to another area in the capitol replacing Lee’s statue with a Rosa Parks statue.
“Under the leadership of Democrats in Congress, we have recognized more women and people of color in Congress’s collection of statues, including Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth and Helen Keller,” she said. “As Speaker, we relocated Robert E. Lee out of a place of honor in National Statuary Hall – a place now occupied by the statue of Rosa Parks.”
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) August 17, 2017
“There is no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy in the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol or in places of honor across the country,” Pelosi said.