Yesterday, we visited the Lee Statue which has, for the past three weeks, been the site of protest, and yes, graffiti. It was quite moving. As I walked around it, with the memory of all the news reports over these last weeks and months and years, I realized that this was a symbol of grief unspoken (or at least, unheard) for too long.
The black community has tried to tell us there is something wrong with our world. Colin Kaepernick tried to do it quietly, respectfully. (I’m Catholic, you spend a good bit of time in church, on your knees. Kneeling is respectful. You kneel to propose, you kneel before a king or queen). But, we told him, NO! You can protest, but not THAT way, either.
So, spray paint it is. Loud, boisterous and sometimes vulgar. There was, first, the anger. Those first few days of protest got the raw emotions out around the country. What are the five stages of grief? It has morphed, now, here, into a place of memorial, and peace, fellowship — free water for anyone who needs it, under a tent, People to discuss issues with at hand, available informally like docents in museums– JUST START TALKING to someone you see, and you can’t help but learn something–and activism (Register to VOTE at one tent while you are here).
Surrounding the statue, every 10 feet or so encircling the base are laminated sheets of paper, with the stories of loss. There are the names we all know– Trayvon, Amadalu, and so many other voices that were silenced. We went on a Thursday afternoon. I was thrilled to see such a variety of ages and colors and physical wellness in those who were visiting. There were so many young people, using this as a backdrop for casual portraits, there was a young black man standing halfway up the pedestal, reading poetry he wrote while a friend recorded him.
It was supposed to feel so very sad; to be forced to see all the evidence of death, of police brutality. But it really felt so very positive to have the mom with her two little blond girls, going quietly from photo to photo, reading and learning — saying their names. We have a long way to go, but removing statues of people who fought against this country and lost would be a great first start. (I am editing this on 4/2/21 to NOTE— I read through this blog today and was struck by—-There was FREE WATER BEING OFFERED TO THOSE WHO CAME TO VISIT, yet, GEORGIA has said NO WATER TO THOSE STANDING ON LINE FOR HOURS TO VOTE)
https://www.rteest42.com/StatebyStateTravelog/Virginia-is-for-Lovers/Lee-Statue-BLM-/ See my entire gallery.