top of page

White contractors wouldn’t remove Confederate statues. So a Black man did it.

“The Negro … put up the Robert E. Lee monument and should the time come, will be there to take it down." These words by Reconstruction-era #civilrights activist John E. Mitchell inspired Devon Henry, a Black contractor, to accomplish a task that white contractors in #Richmond, Va., refused: the removal of Civil War monuments commemorating the Confederacy.

The former capital of the Confederacy, a faction of slave-holding states that defected from the rest of the #Union and sparked the American Civil War, Richmond was littered with #Confederate statues that preserved the image and history of slavery and white supremacy. The endeavor of removing these statues is one that elicited racist insults and death threats against Henry, but he knew that this work had to be done.

“It was and is still today our most meaningful project,” Henry said. Winning that job “wasn’t about the money. It was about the meaning and the response that it would have. Giving voice to the voiceless.”

It is no surprise that the person who took the initiative to remove these disrespectful relics of this country's past was a descendant of the victims terrorized by the individuals commemorated in these monuments. However, there is no doubt that Devon Henry's work in removing these Confederate statues represents a crucial step in addressing and denouncing the legacy of slavery as well as white supremacy in this country.


bottom of page