This afternoon the city of Charlottesville placed a black tarp over the Robert E. Lee monument in Emancipation Park to honor Heather Heyer. Heather was murdered by white nationalists who rallied to protest the city’s decision to remove the Lee monument. The decision to drape the monument in black was taken after a contentious city council meeting on Tuesday night.
During the Civil War families draped their windows, balconies, and doors with black bunting as a sign of their mourning of a loved one who perished in the war. In the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination entire cities were draped in black as as a sign of their collective mourning.
This is a wonderful example of how a monument can be transformed in place. It may prove to be a much more powerful statement about how a community now views the memory of Robert E. Lee compared to removing or relocating the monument.
It may also help to bring a community together at a time of deep grief and point the way forward.