The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation on Wednesday to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol building. The bill requires the removal of statues of anyone who voluntarily served the Confederacy, and it would force states to replace such figures in the National Statuary Hall Collection.
The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 305-113, with 72 Republicans joining every Democrat in support, along with Libertarian Justin Amash, according to CNN. However, each of the 113 votes against the measure came from Republicans. Three additional statues are set for removal: John C. Calhoun, Charles Aycock and James P. Clarke, each of whom defended slavery and segregation throughout their political careers. At this point, the Senate would need to vote on the legislation before it could take effect. However, Senate Republicans have previously pushed back on such efforts, arguing that states should be allowed to make the call.
The issue of the Confederate statues is not new. Still, there has been a renewed conversation about their removal in the wake of weeks of civil rights protests, which started just days after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. Largely as a result of the demonstrations, numerous monuments and statues around the United States have been removed in recent weeks, including several Confederate figureheads. Some of them have been removed though local governments, although protesters have pulled quite a few statues down themselves as a symbolic gesture.
The primary argument against such statues is that they're seen as a glorification of the Confederacy, and with that, slavery and other forms of white supremacy. The opposing side believes that the statues represent both local and American history, and claiming the removal of the statues is a method of erasing history.
Although, the Society of American Historians has previously pointed out that most Confederate monuments were not built during the aftermath of the Civil War, but decades later, starting in 1877 and continuing through 1964. It's also been pointed out that several of the statues themselves were commissioned by the wealthy, who then donated them to local municipalities. However, many of those who commissioned the works had proven ties to racist organizations, including the Ku Klux Klan. Some have also asserted that the statues, themselves, were nothing more than a means of intimidation that aimed to keep Black populations out of specific areas of town.