Descendants of slave owner asked for his recently-toppled statue to be removed in 2017

Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Va.
(Image credit: Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

Blood is thicker than water, but it's got nothing on stone.

Amid nationwide protests against systemic racism, there have been revived discussions on the legitimacy of statues honoring racist figures of the past. In Richmond, Virginia, two such statues met their demise earlier this month when protesters toppled figures of Christopher Columbus and Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham.

For many, the removal of the statues has been a long time coming — including for Wickham's own flesh and blood.

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Clayton and Will Wickham, descendants of the Confederate general and plantation owner, have been asking for the removal of the statue honoring their great-great-great-grandfather since 2017, when they penned a letter to the office of Richmond's mayor asking for its removal, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

"First, we want to be sure you know that, as a plantation owner, Confederate general and industrialist, General Wickham unapologetically accrued power and wealth through the exploitation of enslaved people," the 2017 letter reportedly states.

The brothers wrote the letter during a period of heightened racial tensions following the white supremacist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. At the time, Wickham's statue was one of two statues honoring Confederate officers in Richmond's Monroe Park, remaining there even throughout the park's 2018 renovation.

Now that the statue has been removed by protesters, Clayton is "glad to see it fall," The New York Times reports, as it had become "a source of discomfort, and then of shame."

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