The first woman to start a bank – a black woman – finally gets her due in the Confederacy’s capital

While New Orleans and other cities have removed Confederate monuments, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who is black, is moving forward with plans to recast signage and add context to the statues of Gen. Robert E. Lee and others along Monument Avenue.

Instead of tearing down the controversial monuments, Stoney wants to add new ones devoted to the heroes who fought against slavery and championed civil rights. Those who have criticized New Orleans and other cities for dismantling Confederate history have lauded his restraint.

Others accuse him of dodging the issue and essentially sanctioning the continued celebration of slavery’s proponents and defenders.

“I think it really becomes a math equation,” Flowers said. “For equal display of honor, we must add statues of African Americans who have been left out of the history books.”

Mendez, the sculptor, was chosen in part because of his own history with projects honoring civil rights leaders.

His work includes statues of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall at the Maryland State House, Ernest Everett Just (a famous African-American biologist) at a Maryland Middle School, and Indian independence and civil rights leader Mohandas Gandhi in Long Island, New York.

Mendez said he thinks the coming years will see more efforts like the one honoring Walker – not just honoring more African-American figures in bronze, but female ones as well.

“These places bring people together,” Mendez said. “They tell stories that should be told.”

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