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Kehinde Wiley’s “Rumors of War” statue was recently permanently installed at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) and unveiled to the public in Richmond, Va. Thousands of people gathered on the grounds of VMFA and in the streets for an unveiling that has the potential to transform the identity of Richmond.

Standing more than 27 feet high, the statue represents a young, African American male with dreadlocks and Nike shoes sitting astride a horse. Wiley was inspired to create the statue in direct response to the Confederate statues that are seen along Monument Avenue in Richmond.

The statue is modeled after the 15-foot tall equestrian bronze statue of Cavalry Commander Gen. J.E.B. Stuart who is seen striking a heroic pose on a horse that has its right foot raised. It’s one of the most animated statues on Monument Drive.

Wiley was determined to create an image of an African American male that defied traditional stereotypes of worthlessness. 2019 marks a turning point in the narrative for the state that was the former capital of the Confederacy.

“This monument firmly establishes that our city is not living in the past,” said Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond, who noted that Richmond commemorates the 400th year anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to Virginia and embraces a shift in the winds going forward.

“Today Richmond is embracing a future that is happening right before our eyes.”