Friday, June 5, 2020

John Mitchell, Jr. and the Richmond Planet - What did they say when the Lee Monument was unveiled 130 years ago?

[This is a re-posting of blog entry from August of 2017. I made a few changes - Ray]

The Robert E. Lee Monument on Richmond's Monument Avenue was unveiled on May 29, 1890. The Richmond Planet, the city's leading African American newspaper of the time, published at least items during the month of May of 1890 concerning the monument. It clearly made its view of the monument known. The articles we must assume were written by its editor, John Mitchell. These two brief articles are worth reading today as we debate what to do about the monuments and statutes built to honor the memory of the Confederate States of America - the "nation" that was created to preserve slavery and that fought the United States of America and lost. Can you just imagine what Richmond's African Americans had to think - many of them born into slavery - as the monuments to the "Lost Cause" were slowly erected in the city?

The article above, taken from Chronicling America, was published on May 10, 1890.

And from the day after the unveiling:  

The article above, taken from Chronicling America, was published on May 31, 1890.
"The South may revere the memory of its chieftains. It takes the wrong steps in doing so, and proceeds too far in every similar celebration. 

It serves to retard its progress in the country and forges heavier chains with which to be bound. All is over." - Richmond Planet, May 31, 1890.
Read more about the Richmond Planet HERE.

UPDATE - just saw this - excellent coverage of the Richmond Planet and other Richmond newspapers and their coverage of the Lee Monument  entitled "Complicated History: The Memorial to Robert E. Lee in Richmond,"by Claire Johnson, Virginia Newspaper Project Intern.  Great job by Ms. Johnson. This was posted on the Library of Virginia's Fit To Print blog on the library's Virginia Newspaper Project. 

The "Complicated History" by Claire Johnson includes a great quote from John Mitchell, Jr., the editor of the Richmond Planet, dated June 7, 1890 soon after the statue was unveiled. He wrote of black men: “He put up the Lee Monument, and should the time come, he’ll be there to take it down.”

Looks like John Mitchell might be right - 130 years later! 

June 7, 1890 is the date of the issue of the Richmond Planet that had that quote - look at the bottom of the second column: or just look at this image:


What should we do with the statutes and monuments of Monument Ave.?  I suggest putting them in a park outside the city. Soon. - Ray.  

[Originally posted in August. of 2017 - I made a few changes - Ray.]


TheLeemur said...

Thank you for this. I never thought we'd see it taken down--it is far past time.

Courtney said...

Hello mate, great blog