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Statue of Wade Hampton (L) is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. Hampton was one of the largest slaveholders in the Southeast prior to the war. Gripas Yuri/ABACA

US House votes in favour of removing Confederate statues from Capitol Hill

Representative Karen Bass from California said that these statues represent an acceptance of white supremacy and racism.

THE US HOUSE of Representatives have approved a measure removing from Capitol Hill statues of people who served in the Confederacy during the country’s bitter 19th century Civil War.

While the measure was approved 305-113 in a bipartisan vote in the House, where Democrats hold a majority, it still needs approval in the Senate, controlled by President Donald Trump’s Republicans.

Trump, who has strongly opposed taking down historical statues, would also need to sign the measure for it to become law.

The bill orders the removal from the US Capitol, where Congress is located, of 11 statues of individuals who voluntarily served in the Confederacy.

During the 1861-65 Civil War several southern states tried to secede and form an independent slave-holding republic.

confederate-statues-on-capitol-hill-washington A statue of Uriah Milton Rose on Capitol Hill. Rose was a strong supporter of the Confederacy, and served as president of the American Bar Association. Gripas Yuri / ABACA Gripas Yuri / ABACA / ABACA

The measure would also remove the statues of three men who either supported slavery or white supremacy.

Activists and many African-Americans see Confederate battle flags and monuments to Confederates as symbols of racism, while others, especially white southerners, see them as symbols of heritage.

In mid-June the portraits of four senior 19th-century lawmakers who served in the Confederacy were removed from the US Capitol.

The paintings of the men, all former speakers of the House, were taken down at the order of current Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

confederate-statues-on-capitol-hill-washington Statue of John E Kenna, who was 16 years old when he fought for the Confederacy. Later he was a prosecuting attorney and then a judge. Gripas Yuri / ABACA Gripas Yuri / ABACA / ABACA

The US public has been increasingly grappling with the country’s legacy of racism and slavery since protests swept the nation following the killing of African American George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer on 25 May.

“My ancestors built the Capitol, but yet there are monuments to the very people that enslaved my ancestors,” said Representative Karen Bass from California, chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus.

These statues represent “an acceptance of white supremacy and racism,” she said.

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