Petition Wants to Replace City's Confederate Monument with Grammy Winner

Missy Elliott appears at a panel discussion during South By Southwest at the Austin Convention Center on March 16, 2016, in Austin, Texas. (Rich Fury/Invision/AP)

After building momentum on social media throughout the day, a petition drive to replace a Confederate memorial with a likeness of a local Grammy winner has passed its goal of 25,000 signatures.

The petition is now aiming for 35,000 supporters.

The Confederate Monument in the town square of Portsmouth, Va., was erected between 1876 and 1881 to honor the city’s Confederate dead. Portsmouth Mayor James Rowe has called for the monument to be moved to Cedar Grove cemetery.

The petition started by local resident Nathan Coflin argues that the monument should be replaced by a statue of Missy Elliott, the best-selling female rap artist in history and a native daughter of Portsmouth, graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1990. The 46-year-old record producer has taken home five Grammys over her career.

“We believe it is time to finally replace the Confederate Monument in Olde Towne Portsmouth Virginia near the intersection of Court and High streets with a new statue of a true Portsmouth native hero. 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?” the petition states.

“Before she was ‘Missy Misdemeanor’ she was Melissa Arnette Elliott, born on July 1, 1971, in Portsmouth, Virginia. 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.”

The petition adds: “Getting this statue put up will be a lot of work and you may ask yourself is it worth it? I say yes and ask you to join me in letting us work it. Together we can put white supremacy down, flip it and reverse it.”

That’s a twist on the lyrics of “Work It,” a 2002 hit for Missy Elliott.

“Missy is all of us,” the petition concludes. “Missy is everything the Confederacy was not.”

Elliott has not yet tweeted her reaction to the signature campaign.