Early Monday morning, the University of Texas removed three Confederate monuments from its campus. Greg Fenves, the university’s president, explained the decision had been made following the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in the death of one woman and injured dozens more when white nationalists gathered in the city to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from a public park.
The university’s political reaction reflects similar verdicts made nationwide regarding the monuments. Last week, Baltimore covertly removed four statues in the middle of the night in an operation similar to Texas. Around that time, a Confederate monument was also removed from a Hollywood cemetery. On Saturday, Duke University in Durham, N.C., removed a statue from a campus chapel after protesters upended a Confederate statue at the Durham County Courthouse. Back in April, New Orleans removed four Confederate statues after years of controversy.
While these numbers are certainly significant, there is still a long way to go if nationwide removal is the objective: A 2016 report from the Southern Poverty Law Center identified 718 Confederate monuments and statues scattered across the country. It’s worth noting this number doesn’t include schools, cities, counties, or holidays that honor the Confederacy. The report found that almost 300 of the statues are located in three states: Georgia, Virginia, or North Carolina.
Because a statue has been removed, doesn’t mean they’ll be pulverized into oblivion. In fact, many of the statues remain intact, they’re just moved to private property or museums. For example, Duke University insists it will preserve its statue for future studies in American history. In Gainesville, Florida, a Confederate monument was moved to a private cemetery, while the University of Texas moved a statue to a history center on campus.
But what will replace the statues that once proudly celebrated America’s history? If one fledgling petition from Portsmouth, Virginia, gets its way, these monuments will be replaced by native pop stars.
A petition created six days ago is asking to replace a monument dedicated to 655 unspecified soldiers who parished in the town with a sculpture celebrating Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot, a Portsmouth native. The Change.org petition, titled “Replace the Confederate Monument in Portsmouth with statue of Missy Elliot,“ asks: "Who better to encapsulate the culture and spirit of the city enshrined in a new monument than Grammy Award winning rapper, dancer, and record producer Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliott?”
Judging by the tone of the petition, written by a very passionate fan, Nathan Coflin, it’s uncertain whether the document is intended to be taken seriously, but it’s certainly gaining traction. Coflin writes, “Together we can put white supremacy down, flip it and reverse it.” While lamenting, “Missy is all of us. Missy is everything the Confederacy was not.“ The petition slyly notes Missy has managed to sell 30 million records worldwide "without even once owning a slave.”
The petition has accrued over 27,500 signatures of a proposed 35,000 in less than a week. According to Bustle, the plea only requires 25,000 to be delivered to the city’s mayor, which means it will be taken seriously. As for whether anything will come of it? That part’s not up to us, but one thing is certain: Considering the horrific events that have stained the state of Virginia, the petition to erect a monument of Missy Elliot, a successful, proud black woman, is without a doubt an overtly political act.