House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the portraits of four former House speakers who served in the Confederacy removed from the U.S. Capitol.
Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference Thursday that the portraits would be removed Friday, June 19, the anniversary of the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas learned of their freedom two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The day is known as Juneteenth.
"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," Pelosi wrote.
The former speakers are Robert Hunter of Virginia, Howell Cobb and Charles Crisp of Georgia and James Orr of South Carolina.
According to Pelosi, Orr “swore on the House floor to 'preserve and perpetuate' slavery in order to 'enjoy our property in peace, quiet and security.”
Hunter served at “nearly every level of the Confederacy, including in the Confederate Provincial Congress, as Confederate Secretary of State, in the Confederate Senate and in the Confederate Army,” she wrote in her letter.
Pelosi’s action is the latest of several taken to remove public commemoration of the Confederacy and its supporters.
Last week, she joined top military officials in requesting that bases associated with racism or the Confederacy undergo name changes and asked that statues of Confederate soldiers in the Capitol building be removed.
The NASCAR professional automobile racing association recently banned the Confederate flag at its races. In recent weeks, several statues of Confederate leaders have been torn down or vandalized by protesters across the United States.