The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, that was removed earlier this year will be melted down and made into public art, according to The Smithsonian.
The City Council of Charlottesville voted last week to donate a statue of the Confederate leader to The Jefferson School American Heritage Center. The school plans to melt the bronze monument and turn it into art for the public, The New York Times reported.
The statue was the focus of a deadly white nationalist rally in 2017, known as “Unite the Right,” where a man drove his car into a crowd of counter protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. He is serving a life sentence in the death of Heyer, and is also serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to federal hate crime charges.
The Jefferson School American Heritage Center, a local Black-led nonprofit, will take on the project of transforming the monument. They are calling the project “Swords Into Plowshares,” NPR reported.
“Our hope with ‘Swords into Plowshares’ is to create something that transforms what was once toxic in our public space into something beautiful that can be more reflective of our entire community’s social values,” Andrea Douglas, the center’s executive director, said in a statement obtained by NPR. “We’re giving people opportunities to engage with our own narratives and our own histories. This project offers a road map for other communities to do the same.”
The Jefferson School American Heritage Center said it hopes to select an artist or artists to design a new public artwork by 2024, according to Smithsonian.
The Center already raised more than half of the $1.1 million needed to bring the project to light and is continuing to raise money online.
They hope to have the statue’s new incarnation on display by 2026, the Smithsonian reported.