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Petitioning Charlottesville City Council

Change the name of Lee Park and Remove the Statue

Hi my name is Zyahna and I am a resident of the city of Charlottesville. As a younger African American resident in this city, I am often exposed to different forms of racism that are embedded in the history of the south and particularly this city. My peers and I feel strongly about the removal of the statue because it makes us feel uncomfortable and it is very offensive. I do not go to the park for that reason, and I am certain that others feel the same way. This city is such a great place to live, but this simply goes against the great values of Charlottesville. 

I recently wrote a letter to the editor to express my concerns and to state why I believe the statue should be taken down. 

Letter to the Editor: 

When I think of Robert E. Lee I instantly think of someone fighting in favor of slavery. Thoughts of physical harm, cruelty, and disenfranchisement flood my mind. As a teenager in Charlottesville that identifies as black, I am offended every time I pass it. I am reminded over and over again of the pain of my ancestors and all of the fighting that they had to go through for us to be where we are now. Quite frankly I am disgusted with the selective display of history in this city. There is more to Charlottesville than just the memories of Confederate fighters. There is more to this city that makes it great.

 I am calling on city council along with my peers and members of the community to remove the Robert E. Lee statue because it doesn’t represent what charlottesville is all about. It is offensive to not only one group of people, but essentially it can be offensive to all people. Charlottesville is a very diverse city, and a substantial amount of money is allocated from the city to keep Charlottesville diverse and to keep all areas of the community engaged with each other.

 Nevertheless, let’s not forget that Robert E. Lee fought for perpetual bondage of slaves and the bigotry of the South that kept most  black citizens as slaves and servants for the entirety of their lives. As a result, legislatures of the south chose to ignore and turn a blind eye to the injustices of African Americans from Jim crow and anti-black terrorism to integrated education. These are all some things that this statue stands for. It is about more than just an individual, but rather what that individual believes in and the things that he stands for.

 This past summer, “Black lives matter” was spray painted on the statue. This is just an example of the reactions and the emotions that are evoked because of its presence. Many people, including myself, feel very uncomfortable in the park and we don’t visit it. There are events that I don’t attend simply because they take place in that location. I struggle with the fact that meaningful things that are unique to charlottesville are constantly overlooked. Vinegar Hill is just now beginning to be recognized in the way that it should be. I believe that we should celebrate the things that have been done in this great city to uplift and bring people together, rather than trying to divide them. It is 2016, and things have changed, people have changed, and Charlottesville has changed. It is time for this statue to go.

I am calling on city council to rename Lee park and remove the statue, and I encourage you to do the same.

(photo from nbc29 news)

 

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  • Charlottesville City Council


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