Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she had ordered the removal from the Capitol of four portraits of former House speakers who served in the Confederacy during the Civil War. Pelosi said the portraits will come down Friday, June 19, or Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.
Pelosi ordered the House clerk to remove the portraits, writing in a letter that "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." The four speakers whose portraits will be removed are Robert Hunter of Virginia, Howell Cobb of Georgia, James Orr of South Carolina and Charles Crisp of Georgia.
Pelosi's announcement comes after she sent a letter to the leaders of the Joint Committee on the Library last week requesting that they take action to remove 11 statues of Confederate soldiers and officials from the Capitol. Senator Roy Blunt, the chair of the committee, has said that neither his committee nor the architect of the Capitol had the authority to remove these statues, as each state provides two statues of their choosing.
"Under the law, each state decides which two statues it will send to the Capitol. Several states have moved toward replacing statues and others appear headed in the same direction. This process is ongoing and encouraging," Blunt said in a statement.
Pelosi's order to remove the portraits of the former speakers comes as protesters across the nation have demonstrated against racial violence and police brutality. Many protesters have demanded that municipalities remove statues of Confederate officials. Earlier this month, several Confederate statues across Alabama were taken down or vandalized. In Richmond, Virginia, protesters took down the statue of Confederate General Williams Carter Wickham.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy announced last week that it is working on an order to ban the display of the Confederate flag, less than a week after the Marine Corps issued its directive to do so. NASCAR also announced last week that it would ban the display of the Confederate flag at its events and properties.
However, President Trump has said that he would not consider renaming military bases which had been named after Confederate officials.