In a recent interview with The Hundreds TV, LAMB OF GOD frontman Randy Blythe spoke about the ongoing efforts to remove Confederate statues along Monument Avenue in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia.
The debate regarding Confederate monuments has been polarizing in Richmond and other cities across the country for many years. The Richmond region and communities across the nation are confronting the crisis of racism which has afflicted our country for generations.
"I think it's important to recognize when and why these monuments were put up, because there's this false narrative that at the end of the Civil War, the Confederacy put up all these monuments," Randy said. "Most of these monuments, they were erected during the Jim Crow era, when the segregationist laws were put into effect. And they were put there to cement the position of white people in our society, particularly in the South.
"I find it very interesting, for me, the biggest monument is Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue, that Robert E. Lee himself was very against erecting such monuments; on several different occasions, he spoke against it," Blythe continued. "He was, like, 'I think we should try to endeavor to remove these reminders of civil strife so people can heal.' But with Jim Crow and the need to — now that slaves are illegal — the need to keep black people in a subservient position, both physically and economically, they erect these big monuments.
"The monuments are maintained. Tax dollars pay for lighting them. They pay for the upkeep. They pay for the police right now that are protecting them. That's people's tax dollars.
"Richmond is a majority — it's not a huge majority — but a majority African-American community," he added. "To a lot of these people in the African-American community, when they see these monuments of these Confederate generals, it's just a reminder of going back all the way to why the African-American community is here in the first place, which is slavery. Richmond had the second-largest slave market in the United States; the first was in New Orleans."
Randy also touched upon the recent protests in cities across America following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police. He said: "The stuff that's happening right now, it's not just about one man in Minnesota getting choked to death — this is a built-up thing, and it has been building. In Richmond, particularly the younger population, they've had enough of this. We've talked about putting the statues in context or maybe adding signs or all this other stuff. I think particularly the youth today are just, like, 'No. This is a slap in the face.'
"I believe — it's my personal belief — that the statues should be preserved. Not where they are, in this glorified postion on Monument [Avenue], and everybody's tax dollars are paying to take care of them. But I think they should be taken — they are supposed to be put in storage. And maybe they can be in a museum exhibit or something, so people can understand this time. And when I say this time, I'm talking about right now; there's graffiti all over these things."
Richmond has been working to remove 11 Confederate statues after Mayor Levar Stoney enacted emergency powers to have them immediately taken off city land.
Dozens of Confederate symbols have been taken down across the country in the weeks since Floyd was killed.
Last month, a GWAR fan launched a campaign to replace the Lee statue with a memorial to the band's late frontman Oderus Urungus.
The Confederate general died in 1870, 20 years before his statue was erected on Monument Avenue.
Launched on June 12, the Change.org petition seeks to have the "racist" landmark replaced with a tribute to the GWAR co-founder and longtime leader, whose real name was Dave Brockie. The petition has garnered more than 68,000 signatures.