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‘No room’ for embodiment of ‘violent bigotry’: Pelosi demands removal of 4 portraits of House Speakers who joined Confederacy

‘No room’ for embodiment of ‘violent bigotry’: Pelosi demands removal of 4 portraits of House Speakers who joined Confederacy
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has demanded that four portraits of her predecessors who served in the Confederacy be taken down as a measure to "combat bigotry" as America continues to reel from massive anti-racism protests.

Pelosi penned a letter to the House Clerk requesting the “immediate removal” of the paintings as part of her renewed push to rid the “hallowed halls of Congress” of America’s troubled past. The place has “no room” for “memorializing men who embody the violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy,” particularly at this moment of “extraordinary national anguish,” she argued.

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The call came ahead of ‘Juneteenth’ – the annual holiday commemorating the moment in 1865 when all slaves in Texas were proclaimed free. Texas was the last Confederate state to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, some two and a half years after it was issued by President Abraham Lincoln.

The portraits in question are those of Robert Hunter of Virginia and James Orr of South Carolina, as well as Howell Cobb and Charles Crisp of Georgia. “The portraits of these men are symbols that set back our nation's work to confront and combat bigotry,” Pelosi said in her letter.

The speaker initially said the portraits would be removed on Friday, but her office then announced plans to do it on Thursday afternoon. It’s not the first such call by Pelosi; earlier, she called for the scrapping of all Confederate statues in Congress in a similar fashion, arguing that they represent “hate” as well as “cruelty and barbarism” and run counter to American ideals.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren – a fellow Democrat – has, meanwhile, seen her amendment seeking to ditch Confederate names from US military bases approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The developments come as America has been struck by a wave of protesters pulling down statues they say commemorate historical figures associated with racism and slavery.

While many of the statues depicted various Confederates, Christopher Columbus was also among the historical personalities whose monuments were vandalized by angry crowds. One such incident even resulted in serious injury, when a large Confederate monument in Virginia landed onto a man’s head as it was pulled down.

The incidents formed part of a larger wave of protests that have gripped US cities for several weeks. Sparked by the death of African American man George Floyd at the hands of a cop in Minneapolis in May, the protests have focused on tackling police brutality and racism. However, many rallies spiraled into violent clashes between demonstrators and police, while others were marred by looting and property damage.

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