Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) delivered remarks in July 22 on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 7573, legislation to remove 12 Confederate statues and four other statues honoring men who championed slavery and segregation from display in the United States Capitol. Congresswoman Lee originally introduced the Confederate Monument Removal Act in 2017 in the wake of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
Below are Congresswoman Lee's remarks.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. First, let me thank the gentleman for yielding and for your tremendous leadership and for constantly reminding us of the accurate accounting of the United States history. Also, let me just thank our Speaker, our Majority Leader, our Whip, Mr. Clyburn, Chairwoman Bass, Chairman Benny Thompson and Congressman Butterfield for moving this legislation forward with the urgency that it requires.
I rise in strong support of H.R. 7573, which will remove shameful reminders of slavery and segregation from the U.S Capitol. In 2017, in the wake of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, I introduced the Confederate Monument Removal Act to remove all statues of people who voluntarily served the Confederacy from the Capitol building, so thank you for including this in this current bill. Venerating those who took up arms against the United States to preserve slavery is an affront to the human dignity of all Americans.
These painful symbols of bigotry and racism have no place in our society and certainly should not be enshrined in the U.S. Capitol. It is past time for Congress to stop glorifying the men who committed treason against the United States in a concerted effort to keep African Americans in chains. The movement to honor Confederate soldiers was a deliberate act to rewrite the very history of the United States and humanize acts designed to dehumanize African Americans. They are symbols of hatred and defiance of federal authority and should not be held in a place of honor in the U.S. Capitol.
Let me just conclude by saying this—in this moment, the horrors of systemic racism are front and center and the manifestations are before the public each and every day. The removal of Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol is an important step in dismantling the systems that hold us back. As a descendant of enslaved Americans from Galveston, Texas—enslaved human beings—I thank you for this bill and I ask for an 'aye' vote."
The House voted 305 to 113 to pass the legislation. Congresswoman Lee is the Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Majority Leader's Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. As a member of the House Democratic Leadership, she is the highest-ranking African American woman in the U.S. Congress.