A petition to replace the Confederate monument in the US city of Portsmouth with one of Missy Elliott – a “true Portsmouth native hero” – has attracted more than 26,000 signatures, enough to be submitted to the mayor and city council for consideration.
The current monument, located in the town square, is a 10-metre obelisk surrounded by four bronze figures, and was built between 1876 and 1881.
But petitioner Nathan Coflin said the time had come to “finally” replace the monument with a homegrown hero.
Missy Elliott was born Melissa Arnette Elliott in the Virginia city in 1971, and has gone on to become, according to Nielsen, the bestselling female rap album artist of all time.
“Who better to encapsulate the culture and spirit of the city enshrined in a new monument than Grammy Award-winning rapper, dancer, and record producer Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliott?” Mr Coflin wrote on the Change.org petition.
“Hailing from humble beginnings as the only child of a power company dispatcher and a welder at Portsmouth’s lauded naval shipyard, she rose to become a platinum recording artist with over 30 million albums sold.
“All this without even once owning a slave.”
He added: “Together we can put white supremacy down, flip it and reverse it.
“Missy is all of us. Missy is everything the Confederacy was not.”
Petitions with more than 25,000 signatures are able to be submitted to the mayor, John Rowe and the city council.
Once the petition hit that number on Monday evening (local time), Mr Coflin posted an update saying he was moving, “into the planning stages of getting a design in place, obtaining cost estimates, and reaching out to potential benefactors to assist in funding”.
He said the petition would be put before the council once those arrangements had been made.
Renewed push to remove Confederate memorials
The petition comes after a rally by white supremacists protesting against plans to remove a Confederate statue sparked clashes with anti-racism demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month.
The rally turned deadly when a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 other people.
The violence in Charlottesville appears to have accelerated the drive to remove memorials, flags and other reminders of the Confederate cause across the United States.
For some Americans, the Confederate icons symbolise white supremacy. For others, they are racially innocuous reminders of history.
For several decades after the American Civil War, the Confederate battle emblem was rarely displayed.
It was not until 1948 that the Confederate flag re-emerged as a potent political symbol and, since then, has been embraced by the American white supremacist movement.