I did this illustration about five years ago for my first children’s book, Short Pump Bump. This was actually the first illustration I did, which was done as a proof-of-concept for inserting cartoon characters into photos of well-known places in and around Richmond, Virginia.
At first, I was not very happy to see a Confederate statue was going to appear in the book. After giving it a lot of thought, I felt what better way to show the failure of white supremacy than to draw a healthy, well-dressed, well-educated, and well-loved black girl looking up at a statue that was meant to invoke fear, but rendered impotent and comical by a humble bird on its head?
Today that statue is no longer there! It is a long-overdue victory dear to my heart. America does not need monuments to hatred, brutality, and treason. We deserve monuments that remind us of the highest ideals and aspirations of all people. I am proud that the former capital of the Confederacy is now choosing to set a good example and to not allow itself to be defined by the mistakes of its past. Goodbye, Matthew Fontaine Maury. And good riddance.