First introduced in 2017 by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), the Confederate Monument Removal Act, S 3957/HR 7217 would end the presence of Confederate statues in the Capitol. Each state is represented by two statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection; to this day, 11 of these important monuments depict officials and fighters for the Confederacy. The Act would send these statues back to their respective states or, if the states do not want them, send them to the Smithsonian Museum. The states will still be represented in the National Statuary Hall Collection by non-Confederate statues of their choosing.
National conversations about the appropriateness of Confederate monuments have circulated for years, and as calls for sweeping reforms of state-sponsored police violence have dominated the past few weeks, Congress has revisited the Confederate Monument Removal Act. Some, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, oppose the act on the grounds that we cannot “airbrush the Capitol and scrub out everybody from years ago who had any connection to slavery.” However, these monuments celebrate those who not only owned slaves, but actively fought against their own nation to defend their right to do so. They are being honored for their violence against the country and against the many Black lives that they viewed as dispensable. The CMRA acknowledges that these individuals represent the very opposites of unity, freedom, and equality, and have no place in the honored halls of the Capitol.