WASHINGTON ― House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday ordered the immediate removal of portraits in the U.S. Capitol of four previous House Speakers who served in the Confederacy.
“There is no room in the hallowed halls of Congress or in any place of honor for memorializing men who embody the violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy,” Pelosi said in a letter to the Clerk of the House of Representatives.
The Speaker said she was pulling the portraits down to mark Juneteenth on Friday, which this year comes during a moment of “extraordinary national anguish, 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 four portraits are of former House Speakers Robert Hunter of Virginia, who served 1839-1841; Howell Cobb of Georgia, who served 1849-1851; James Orr of South Carolina, who served 1857-1859; and Charles Crisp of Georgia, who served 1891-1895.
Here’s a copy of her letter to the Clerk of the House.
Pelosi made it clear last week that she wants Confederate statues gone from the Capitol, too. She called them “monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end.”
She doesn’t have the authority to remove them; that’s a more complicated process that involves the Architect of the Capitol and states donating statues to honor their history. But in a letter to the congressional committee with jurisdiction over the display of statues at the Capitol, she called for them to direct the Architect of the Capitol to “immediately” remove the 11 Confederate statues in the building.