The statue of Robert E. Lee cast a racist shadow over Richmond, Virginia, for 131 years. But today it is gone.

The federal government sent a truck and a removal crew to Monument Avenue one misty day in September. The bronze likeness of the man who betrayed his country to lead the fight for a new nation that was heralded at the time as “the first in the history of the world” based on the belief that “the negro is not equal to the white man” was sawn into pieces. The pieces were hoisted off the marble pedestal. And carted away.

For Katie St. Germain, it felt a bit anticlimactic. She watched from her computer at work.

As a lifelong Virginian, she remembered seeing the statute and other Confederate monuments as a child from the backseat of her mom’s car, headed to ballet lessons. She didn’t know what they meant. She slowly learned as she got older that Richmond—her city—was proud of its heritage as the former capital of a four-year experiment in white supremacy.

When St. Germain graduated high school, a lot of her friends got a class ring adorned with the Confederate battle flag. A lot of her family had those rings too. But she decided she didn’t want one. She wasn’t proud of the Confederacy. As a white evangelical Christian, she thought it was wrong.

So St. Germain was glad to see the statue coming down. But it still felt incomplete.

“I’m not a big liturgy person, but I think we have to have a liturgy,” said St. Germain, who attends a nondenominational church called The Chapel. “I read Be the Bridge by Latasha Morrison and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Both of those authors talk about the importance of lament. It is a biblical response, to lament. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Issue: