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Mon Apr 18, 2022, 10:11 AM

For a Black Man Hired to Undo a Confederate Legacy, It Has Not Been Easy

Devon Henry and his company have taken down 23 monuments in the South, including the infamous Robert E. Lee statue in Virginia, in part because few others were interested.

Devon Henry stands among the pieces of a pedestal that once held a statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond. His general contracting company has hauled away 15 pieces of Confederate statuary in the city.Credit...Sanjay Suchak

Matt Stevens

By Matt Stevens
April 17, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. — As Devon Henry and his construction team take down the last remnants of statues that long dotted this former capital of the Confederacy, they have developed a grim game.

Random passers-by, some in vehicles, others on foot, often make known their disapproval of Mr. Henry’s work — so often, in fact, that Mr. Henry, who is Black, began to keep count of the many times he or a Black crew member were called an incendiary racial slur.

The count is 72 and climbing, according to Mr. Henry, who has emerged as the go-to statue remover not only for this city, but for all of Virginia and other parts of the South.

Statue removal has become a lucrative line of work amid the ongoing national reckoning over traumas past and present. But in Richmond, where a 21-foot figure of Robert E. Lee towered over the city for more than a century, officials say no amount of government pleading produced a candidate interested in dismantling the city’s many monuments during the tense and sometimes violent days of summer 2020.


( I wish I could say I was shocked. )

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