Pelosi removes portraits of former House speakers that served in Confederacy
On Thursday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ordered the immediate removal of portraits in the Capitol of previous House speakers who served in the Confederacy. Pelosi discovered the four portraits as she was taking inventory of Confederate statues, which she is also trying to remove but can’t do on her own.
Pelosi wrote a letter to the House clerk requesting the removal of four previous House Speakers portraits in honor of Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the ending of slavery in the U.S.
“Tomorrow, Juneteenth, the clerk will oversee the removal of those Confederate speakers from the House,” Pelosi said at a press conference. “There’s no room in the hallowed halls of this democracy, this temple of democracy, to memorialize people who embody violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy.”
In the letter, Pelosi wrote: “To appropriately observe Juneteenth this year, I write today to request the immediate removal of the portraits in the U.S. Capitol of four previous Speakers who served in the Confederacy: Robert Hunter of Virginia (1839-1841), Howell Cobb of Georgia (1849-1851), James Orr of South Carolina (1857-1859), and Charles Crisp of Georgia (1891-1895). “The portraits of these men are symbols that set back our nation’s work to confront and combat bigotry.”
This is just the latest effort by Pelosi to strip the Capitol of any reminder of the Civil War or leaders from that era. During her first speakership, she moved a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee down to the Capitol crypt.
Earlier this month, Pelosi started an attempt to remove 11 Confederate statues from the Capitol but is unlikely to get the necessary support to do so. The speaker does have the authority to move the statues within the building, however, and could choose to move them to low traffic areas.
Pelosi took time to mention the names of black Americans who have recently been killed by police officers in her letter.
“Very sadly, this day comes during a moment of extraordinary national anguish, as we grieve for the hundreds of black Americans killed by racial injustice and police brutality, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others,” she wrote.
Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie says that things are starting to get out of hand when it comes to removing pieces of history.
“Where does all this end? Renaming ‘Washington’ DC?” Massie tweeted.
Massie also pointed out that the former speakers served as “Speakers of the House for the United States of America, not the Confederate States, a fact many media outlets are missing.”
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