Black Journalists Uninterested in the Davis Monument on Monument Avenue

On June 3, 1907, A monument to Jefferson Davis, the only president of the CSA, was unveiled on Monument Avenue in Richmond. This followed the erection of a massive statue of General Robert E. Lee in 1890 and a monument to J.E.B. Stuart just four days prior. The creation of the Davis monument—as grand as it was—resulted in very little notice among Black journalists. Black newspapers published no editorials on the unveiling of the Davis monument, but two of them offered brief coverage.

The Washington Bee published an article simply stating that the “statue of Jefferson Davis was unveiled last Monday.” They also noted that “At the request of Gen. Stephen D. Lee all trains on the Atlanta and West Point Railroat [sic] were stopped last Monday afternoon for five minutes in honor of the unveiling of the Jefferson Davis Monhment [sic].”[1]

The Iowa State Bystander (later just the Bystander) republished an Associated Press report about the unveiling in Richmond. This article praised the proceedings, describing how “Under a perfect sky… the armies of gray passed through the streets of Richmond Monday and, out on splendid Monument Avenue, unveiled an enduring memorial to Jefferson Davis.”[2]

It seems that the Bystander shortened the AP article that was picked up in mainstream newspapers. The title of the Bystander piece—“Davis Statue Unveiled”—is also less celebratory than the heading chosen by mainstream venues: the Daily Press (Newport, VA) went with “Splendid Memorial to South’s Great Leader” and the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, AL) ran their version under the title “South Sets Aside Eternal Shaft to Perpetuate Dead Leader’s Fame.”[3]

Justin Seward


Birmingham Age-Herald. “Unveil Memorial to President of Confederacy.” Birmingham Age-Herald, June 4, 1907, 1.

Daily Press. “Splendid Memorial to South’s Great Leader.” Daily Press, June 4, 1907, 1.

Iowa State Bystander. “Davis Statue Unveiled.” Iowa State Bystander, June 8, 1907, 1.

Library of Congress. “About Iowa State Bystander.” Iowa State Bystander Pub. Co. Accessed August 10, 2023.

Montgomery Advertiser. “South Sets Aside Eternal Shaft to Perpetuate Dead Leader’s Fame.” Montgomery Advertiser, June 4, 1907, 1.

Washington Bee. “The Statue of Jefferson Davis.” Washington Bee, June 8, 1907, 1.

  1. Washington Bee, “The Statue of Jefferson Davis.” ↩︎

  2. Iowa State Bystander, “Davis Statue Unveiled.” ↩︎

  3. Daily Press, “Splendid Memorial to South’s Great Leader”; Birmingham Age-Herald, “Unveil Memorial to President of Confederacy”; Montgomery Advertiser, “South Sets Aside Eternal Shaft to Perpetuate Dead Leader’s Fame.” ↩︎