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Robert E. Lee 1
Robert E. Lee - 1863


Richmond, Virginia, has restored an old canal. Beside the canal, they have constructed a walkway. Adjacent to the walkway is a floodwall which they have decorated with murals depicting Richmond's historic events and figures. The murals were hung on June 2, 1999.

One of the murals was of Robert E. Lee.

Black activist City Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin met with the "Richmond Historic Riverfront Foundation" and threatened a boycott if the Lee portrait remained. On June 3, 1999 they took the Lee mural down.

A few comments...

  • The so-called Richmond Historic Riverfront Foundation should be called the Richmond Pseudo-historic Riverfront Foundation. or better, the Richmond Politically-correct Riverfront Foundation, or better yet, the Richmond Weak-kneed Riverfront Foundation. One threat of a boycott and they fold!

  • We'll not go into a defense of Lee here. He needs no defense. It's apparent that the protesters haven't studied Lee. They are ignorant of him and his life. They are trying to change history and that is sad. History cannot be changed, erased, or ignored.

  • The local TV station (WWBT Copyright, channel 12) conducted a survey on June 3, 1999. 88% of the respondents to the survey said that the Lee Mural should be restored, including 38% of the black respondents.

How this will end, we don't know. Maybe the Weak-kneed Foundation will fold again, maybe not. But unless they fold, we will never see the Richmond Canal Walk unless we can't avoid it while visiting the new National Park Visitor's Center which is scheduled to relocate near the river this fall.

June 5, 1999 UPDATE
  • The Richmond Historic Riverfront Foundation has announced that it will put together a committee of citizens who will assess the images used on the floodwall.

  • This is the typical response of a bureaucracy when cornered. Form a committee and, by the time they come up with something, the controversy will have dissipated.

  • If this committee's results have to be approved by councilman Sa'ad El-Amin, then what good is it anyway?

  • And what can they decide? If they decide to leave the Lee Mural down then they are endorsing an unacceptable status quo.

  • Former Black Governor L. Douglas Wilder said (quoted from the Richmond Times-Dispatch Copyright ) "The big problem here is a failure to communicate...The majority of Richmonders are not interested in obilterating history...There is a place for Robert E. Lee on the wall."

  • Supporters of the Lee portrait draped the Confederate Battle Flag over a bridge crossing the canal just as dignitaries began a boat tour. When Former Governor L. Douglas Wilder saw the flag, he stood up and saluted it.

  • Over 900 people contacted the Richmond Times-Dispatch Friday, June 4, 1999. According to the Dispatch all but a handful were adamant against the removal of the mural.

July 1, 1999 UPDATE

The committee has decided to put Lee on the Wall! However, it will not be the photo at the top of this page. Instead it will be this one:

Robert E. Lee 64

This photo was selected because it was taken in Richmond after the war. But it is not over with yet. The committee is going to exhibit the murals, including Lee, from July 5 thru 11 and ask for public (residents) comments and says it may make adjustments if necessary.

July 18, 1999 UPDATE

After the review period, the Committee reaffirmed its decision to place Lee's likeness on the wall. City Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin immediately moved that the City Council block putting any murals on the wall. This, in direct contradiction to elected black leaders who said that Lee should be on the wall. According to formalities, the resolution must be addressed at the next council meeting. Accordingly, no murals will be hung until after the city council acts. Some wag suggested that they tear down the flood wall. Then, the next flood will resolve all of the canal walk's problems.

It is interesting to note that, at the same time, a big deal was being made of an exhibit of the Pharaohs being shown in Richmond. Weren't the Children of Israel held in slavery by the Pharaohs? We heard no outcry about that.

July 21, 1999 UPDATE


On July 19, 1999 Virginia Beach honored 24 Virginia Legends, when they opened their "Virginia Legends Walk". The 24 Legends were determined by 570 judges from 101 nominees selected by the public. The judges consisted of history professors, museum directors, news organizations, and others. Each of the judges voted, and the top 24 nominees, ranked by the number of votes received, were selected.

According to the Richmond Times Dispatch (July 20, 1999) Thomas Jefferson was first, beating out George Washington by three votes. Third guessed it...Robert E. Lee, followed by Patrick Henry, Edgar Allen Poe, etc. Stonewall Jackson was 14th! Among the blacks selected were Arthur Ashe and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Mr. Ashe's sister, Loretta Harris, represented her family at the dedication, and Richard Bland Lee, the general's cousin, twice removed, represented the Lees. All of the "Legends" were shown the respect they deserved.

Quite a contrast to Richmond.

Guess we'll visit Virginia Beach before we visit the Richmond Canal.

July 27, 1999 UPDATE

After several hours of comments by the public and the ranting and raving of Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin, the Richmond City Council voted 8 to 1 against El-Amin's resolution to have no murals on the floodwall, and 6 to 3 in favor of the resolution placing the murals, including Lee, on the floodwall. Although the defense of Lee on the council was lukewarm at best, it did show that there are people on the council who can look objectively and fairly at Richmond's history and who will not agree with the distortion of history.

Of course, El-Amin is not finished. We are of the opinion that he will milk this for all of the publicity that he can get. So the next step will probably be a lawsuit. In the end, however, he will lose, as well he should. It would be interesting to find out what he gained from starting this controversy.

August 5, 1999 UPDATE

The beat goes on! Now the black associations are shunning the two black council members who had the intelligence to understand history and the need for racial compromise by voting for the Lee Mural to be restored to the wall. Since over 50% of the blacks in a recent Richmond Times Dispatch's poll and an overwhelming majority of people who viewed the Murals during the committee's deliberations, favored the Murals, maybe these biased associations will get a wake up call at the next election.

While we can write off these events as just another of the silly things that the Richmond City Council has become famous for over the past several years, it is embarrassing to learn that they have gained national notoriety. In the August 4, 1999 Richmond Times Dispatch Letters to the Editor we find this:


One of your City Council meetings made the local television news here in Los Angeles. How embarrassing for one of the most historically notable cities in America that the mechanisms of your city government come across to the rest of the nation as no less than minstrel-show buffoonery. And all of this involving the inclusion of Robert E. Lee, a man Winston Churchill called "one of the noblest Americans who ever lived" on some flood wall.

I assume the self-appointed lead scat-dancer of your City Council is Sa'ad El-Amin, whose shuck-and-jive politics are those of divisiveness.

Which reminds me of another Churchill quote: "A nation that forgets its past has no future."

Embarrassing, indeed.

August 28, 1999 UPDATE

There is little news to report while new murals, including Robert E. Lee's, are being made. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch some comments made by Councilman El-Amin are being played on one of the late night network programs. He has expressed a desire to be on that program in order to explain his position. No surprise there.

We recently received an e-mail from [a northern city resident], who does not wish to be identified, making what we think are very thoughtful statements regarding this episode. His remarks, with some editing, can be read via this Link.

September 5, 1999 UPDATE

As we await the hanging of the Lee Mural, Richmond City Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin has something else demanding his attention:

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch in its September 4, 1999 edition:

"The four-year suspension of the license of Richmond City Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin to practice law will take effect Oct. 1...

"The allegations of misconduct against El-Amin centered on two cases in which he accepted payments from women who wanted him to represent them in pursuing racial discrimination claims and a third case he which he took a car from a state prison inmate as payment for future legal work.

"El-Amin acknowledged that he was negligent in his representation of the two women and that he did not handle fees they advanced as legal ethics require. But he insisted he was not dishonest in those cases and eventually earned the fee represented by the car from the inmate.

"In a unanimous opinion, the state Supreme Court disagreed..."

October 26, 1999 UPDATE

Still awaiting the the hanging of the Lee Mural.

November 3, 1999 UPDATE

Well, they started hanging the "revised" murals this week. It will take two to three weeks to complete and the Lee Mural will be among the last to go up.

One of the black leaders interviewed by the Richmond Newspaper said that they weren't finished with this and that he had not been aware that the Murals were being hung.

More to come...evidently.

November 21, 1999 UPDATE

They have hung the Lee Mural on the floodwall. We visited the site (It is near 14th street) and we must say we wonder what all of the fuss was about. The whole display of murals is disappointing. The floodwall was not placed with the idea of displaying anything on it. The view of it is blocked in numerous places unless you're right in front of it. From a distance, that part of it that is visible looks like it has a bunch of billboards on it.

We took some photos and will display them later, but, at this time, it looks like the controversy is over.

December 4, 1999 UPDATE

Flood Wall Mural      Lee Mural

The Controversy was about this????

We'd be against the Lee Mural on this bizarre wall, because it does a disservice to the man!


January 18, 2000 UPDATE

We're baaaaaaack...

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, sometime between 2 a.m. and 5 p.m. yesterday someone burned the mural of Robert E. Lee on the floodwall. Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin said that public officials could not and should not condone acts of vandalism of public property. The Times-Dispatch reports that Police may have a suspect.

What can we say? This is a result of the level of education in history that recent generations have been given. The hot heads, who have had no history education to speak of, are reacting to the rantings of leaders who also have never studied Lee.

And what do these hot heads accomplish? Nothing less than increasing the division between the races. But maybe that's what they want.

By the way, in today's article, the Times-Dispatch repeated a statement it made during the controversy last year: "A different portrait of Lee, not in uniform, was ... put up in November." Now we ask you. Look at the top photograph on this page of Lee in 1863 in uniform and compare it with the 1865 photograph that was placed on the wall. Can you really say that Lee is not in uniform in the 1865 photograph?

January 23, 2000 UPDATE

Yesterday, in an editoral, the Richmond Times Dispatch said that if the Lee Mural was not restored, then all of the Murals should be taken down.

February 14, 2000 UPDATE

Well, the Lee Mural has been restored to the floodwall. The Richmond police have indicated that there will be increased surveillance to insure that another attack does not take place.

As if the Lee Mural was not enough, the Richmond Mayor and Sa'ad El-Amin --- who else? --- have proposed re-naming the Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee bridges after some black notables. The SCV is threatening a boycott of Richmond. I shall not pursue this latest in a growing list of embarrassments brought to us by the clowns at City Hall unless it rises above the current bottom-dwelling position taken by the City's "leaders".

This is getting old...

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