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February 23, 2021

“Massive Resistance” architect’s statue banished

Photo/Capital News Service
The statue of Harry Flood Byrd Sr. has stood in Virginia’s Capitol Square since 1976, a decade after this death.
That is a great stain on his career and a great embarrassment. But he was a man of a certain time in a certain era.
— Sen. Jill Vogel (R-27th/Upperville)
By Zachary Klosko
Capital News Service

RICHMOND — The Virginia General Assembly has voted to remove the statue of former U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr. from Capitol Square, the area around the Virginia statehouse.

House Bill 2208, introduced by Del. Jay Jones (D-Norfolk), instructs the Department of General Services to place the statue in storage until the General Assembly chooses its final location. The bill passed the House in late January on a 63-34 vote, while the Senate approved the measure Tuesday on a 36-3 vote.

Mr. Byrd served as governor from 1926 to 1930 and U.S. senator from 1933 to 1965. His Massive Resistance campaign pushed for Southern states to reject the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education, cutting off state funding and closing schools that tried to integrate.

Del. Jones called the statue a reminder of the institutional racism in Virginia during the bill’s first committee hearings. Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) echoed Jones’ sentiments during the bill’s final reading on the Senate floor.

“When I was an intern working for the first African American governor and walked past that statue every day, I knew I was his worst nightmare,” Sen. McClellan said. “I feel it every time I walk past it.”

She spoke of the pain African Americans have endured in Virginia due to Mr. Byrd’s disenfranchisement of Black voters and the dehumanization that he cast on them.

“There is no context that could be placed on a statue on Capitol Square, the ultimate public park with public art, that could erase the pain that Harry Byrd and his legacy invokes for African American Virginians,” Sen. McClellan said.

Sen. Jill Vogel (R-27th/Upperville) gave a speech on the Senate floor portraying Mr. Byrd as a humble, industrious man who worked in the apple business, saved a local newspaper and improved Virginia’s highway infrastructure. Sen. Vogel described Mr. Byrd’s “Massive Resistance” campaign against school integration in the 1950s as a stain on an otherwise remarkable career.

“That is a great stain on his career and a great embarrassment,” Sen. Vogel said. “But he was a man of a certain time in a certain era.”

She asked fellow senators to “look at the whole man and consider that we are each a sum of all our parts, the good and the bad.”

Sen. Richard Saslaw (D-Springfield) pushed back on Sen. Vogel’s request, saying probably 100,000 students — if not more — were kept out of school for years because of Mr. Byrd’s push for segregation.

“I just don’t see how we can overlook the fact that all of these children … were kept out of school for four years,” Sen. Saslaw said. “I think that we should not be honoring people to that degree in Capitol Square.”

Del. Wendell Walker (R-Lynchburg) introduced a bill last year to remove Mr. Byrd’s statue. Del. Walker later pushed for his bill to be removed.

Del. Walker voted against HB 2208 during its final reading in the House on Jan. 27.

The push to remove statues of Confederate leaders accelerated after protests began following the death of George Floyd last May. Mr. Floyd died in the custody of a Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with second-degree murder.

The Department of General Services estimated the Byrd statue’s removal will cost approximately $250,000, according to the bill’s impact statement. Storage costs are estimated at $7,000 per year until the final home of the statue is determined.

Mr. Byrd’s statue was erected in Richmond’s Capitol Square in 1976 after his death in 1966. The bipartisan vote to remove it comes on the eve of the 65th anniversary of Mr. Byrd’s Massive Resistance campaign, according to the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.

Sens. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) and Vogel were the only senators to vote against the bill.

Rita Davis, counsel to Gov. Ralph Northam, spoke of his support for the bill during committee hearings. Gov. Northam is expected to sign the legislation.

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Linda Ward · February 26, 2021 at 4:03 pm
Save - Is anyone listening to your crapy either?

How creditable are your sources or for that matter, how credible are you?
Linda Ward · February 26, 2021 at 4:00 pm
Save - Off on another tangent I see. Whataboutism. White people ARE less white every day as people intermarry across the nation and give birth to mixed heritage/color children. There are a lot of beautiful children being created daily.
Savefauquiercounty2019 · February 25, 2021 at 9:43 pm
Coke....wants white people to be less white. Go figure. They are connected with China. Their Ceo is from Britain. Our Americans really listening to this crapy?
Jerome Fields · February 25, 2021 at 2:34 pm
Save - slave noun
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\ ˈslāv \
Definition of slave (Entry 1 of 4)
1: a person held in servitude as the chattel of another
2: one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence
3: a device (such as the printer of a computer) that is directly responsive to another
slave verb
slaved; slaving
Definition of slave (Entry 2 of 4)
intransitive verb

1: to work like a slave : DRUDGE
2: to traffic in slaves
transitive verb

1: to make directly responsive to another mechanism
2archaic : ENSLAVE
slave adjective
Definition of slave (Entry 3 of 4)
1a: of, relating to, involving, or used for slaves or slavery
slave traders
a slave auction
slave owners
a slave economy
Many authentic slave narratives were influenced by Harriet Beecher Stowe; on the other hand, authentic slave narratives were among Stowe's primary sources for her own imaginative work, Uncle Tom's Cabin.
— Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
b: held in or forced into servitude : ENSLAVED
born of slave parents
slave workers
c: favoring or legally permitting slavery
a slave territory
the slave states

My ancestors were Irish and FARMERS. They were not OWNED and traded like animals to other people.

What horrifying organizations? You didn't name any. I do NOT condone the owning of any human being but you are way off base with the Irish being SLAVES.
Savefauquiercounty2019 · February 25, 2021 at 11:47 am
Jerome, your parodies notably try to distort. Homeowners don't generally know who built their homes. Real estate agents probably do though and developers. Like you said...Let's start with them. Are you saying it is OK for other nationalities to be slaves and the business owner gets away with it? Irish were slaves. Do you see them destroying and killing people? How do you feel about the democrat governor being in a family that owned a plantation and slaves? Like Obama said racism is in your genes. So it is in your genes too. Do you want these horrifying organizations to continue to be the judge and jury without any evidence???
Jerome Fields · February 25, 2021 at 8:13 am
Savefauquiercounty2019 - Yes, let's start with the builders/developers who may have built your house all the way up to the Trump Organization.
Savefauquiercounty2019 · February 24, 2021 at 6:40 pm
Can we now go after the past and present businesses that hire illegals and use them as slaves?
Jerome Fields · February 24, 2021 at 5:20 pm
BestKeptSecrets - Agreed. Let's begin with the American rapists (masters, their sons, and overseers) of plantations and work forward from there to claw back the wealth they gained from the beaten backs of those slaves.

Don't stop at every leader with tainted behaviors, let's go after anyone with tainted behavior, starting with you. Unless you are saying you are innocent of ANY wrongdoing........
BestKeptSecrets · February 24, 2021 at 4:43 pm
Isn't there a very famous black American who religious beliefs were critical of homosexuality? How did this affect large groups of gays during the times where they were beaten alive? Aren't some countries killing them? Let's go after every leader who has any tainted behaviors and remove their names from buildings and their statues. Everyone of you that purchases any items from foreign countries who uses children as slaves or sell their people for slaves or has sold their people from slaves, you are just as guilty. Let the bed covers be pulled back on everyone.
Cammie Rodgers · February 24, 2021 at 10:43 am
Let's stop putting up statues and naming bridges, roads, etc. for people.

youcantfixstupid · February 24, 2021 at 9:58 am
Another democrat statue removed. And isn't it funny how the marxist BLM and socialist democrats want to segregate again? · February 24, 2021 at 9:36 am
Not one mention of the fact that Byrd was a Democrat.
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