Pelosi Orders Portrait Removal of Confederate House Speakers

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she would order the removal of portraits of former House Speakers who worked for the Confederacy.

Pelosi made the decision in order to “appropriately observe Juneteenth” on Friday. The four chosen for removal are Robert Hunter of Virginia (1839-1841), Howell Cobb of Georgia (1849-1851), James Orr of South Carolina (1857-1859), and Charles Crisp of Georgia (1891-1895).

“Tomorrow, Juneteenth, the clerk will oversee the removal of those Confederate speakers from the House,” Pelosi announced during the press conference. “There’s no room in the hallowed halls of this democracy, this temple of democracy, to memorialize people who embody violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy.”

Pelosi called the portraits “symbols that set back our nation’s work to confront and combat bigotry,” memorializing several recent victims of police brutality: “Very sadly, this day comes during a moment of extraordinary national anguish,” Pelosi said, “as we grieve for the hundreds of black Americans killed by racial injustice and police brutality, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others.”

The Speaker has already removed Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s statue and had it sent down to the White House “crypt.” She said she is trying to do the same with 11 other offending statues in the nation’s capital but will need further political support to accomplish the task.

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