Photos: Removal of the George Rogers Clark Statue

July 12, 2021 By Sanjay Suchak, sanjay@virginia.edu Sanjay Suchak, sanjay@virginia.edu

University of Virginia photographer Sanjay Suchak was on hand Sunday to capture the removal of the George Rogers Clark statue on West Main Street near the Corner.

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The Board of Visitors approved the statue’s removal last year, a move that faculty members, staff and students have long advocated and that was recommended in 2020 by the University’s Racial Equity Task Force.

The statue depicted Clark, a Revolutionary War-era military officer, and three armed frontiersmen confronting three unarmed Native Americans, who are shown in a submissive posture, and referred to Clark as the “Conqueror of the Northwest.” It was erected in 1921, the same time period as three other Charlottesville statues removed over the weekend – those of Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and a nearby statue of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Sacagawea. All four were paid for by Paul Goodloe McIntire, who made several donations to UVA and the Charlottesville community.

The Clark statue had long been a source of pain for Native Americans at UVA and in the community. UVA history professor Christian McMillen wrote in July 2020 that both the George Rogers Clark statue and the statue of Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea were “instrumental in creating and perpetuating the myth of brave white men conquering supposedly unknown and unclaimed land.”

The George Rogers Clark statue will be placed in storage as the University continues to work with Indigenous leaders to determine a suitable place for it off Grounds.

The removal is part of ongoing efforts to recontextualize parts of UVA’s historic landscape, including both changes to names and memorials and the addition of digital tools providing historical context, both governed by a Naming and Memorials committee.

Here are Suchak’s photos from Sunday’s removal.

Workers carefully placed straps around the statue to lift it off its pedestal.
A worker guides the crane into place.
Workers drove wedges between the statue and its base to separate the two.
A crowd gathered as the statue was lifted, including some members of the Native American community.
A close-up of Clark’s face.
The statue will be stored as the University works with Native American leaders to determine a suitable location for it off Grounds.

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