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Statue of civil rights pioneer Barbara Johns to replace Confederacy's Lee in U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A statue of Black civil rights activist Barbara Johns, who played a key role in the desegregation of the public school system, will be installed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, officials said on Monday, replacing one of a leader of the pro-slavery Confederacy.

Johns was 16 when she led classmates at her all-Black Virginia high school in protest of substandard conditions, leading to a lawsuit that was resolved in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v Board of Education decision that declared segregation illegal.

The statue, provided by Virginia, will replace one of General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate States Army and the Army of Northern Virginia during the U.S. Civil War.

“The Congress will continue our work to rid the Capitol of homages to hate, as we fight to end the scourge of racism in our country,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “There is no room for celebrating the bigotry of the Confederacy in the Capitol or any other place of honor in our country.”

Representative Donald McEachin of Virginia said on Twitter: “I look forward to seeing a statue of Barbara Johns, whose bravery changed our nation, representing VA here soon.”

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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