On the evening of Oct. 18, 1921, to inaugurate the Jackson ceremonies, Duke delivered an “address of welcome on behalf of the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle” to an assembly at the Jefferson Theater. On Oct. 19, the day of the Jackson statue dedication, Duke “presided over the exercises of the unveiling,” and accepted the Jackson statue, a gift from local philanthropist Paul McIntire, on Charlottesville’s behalf.
Duke moved to center stage on May 21, “Robert E. Lee Day.” He participated in a massive procession that snaked its way through Charlottesville to the new Lee Park downtown. After “the multitude assembled about the statue,” Duke was the first man they heard from, as he assumed his role as the “presiding officer” of the day’s events, welcoming a series of speakers who made the case that Robert E. Lee, a “Victor over Defeat,” represented “the moral greatness of the Old South.”
In what the local paper called the “most dramatic moment” of the unveiling, Duke brought to center stage 3-year-old Mary Walker Lee, to pull the cord unveiling the monument; Duke introduced her, to the roar of the crowd, as “the great-granddaughter of the greatest man who ever lived.”8
Duke’s career not only reveals the racial animus at the heart of the Lost Cause creed, it also reflects UVA’s role in promulgating Lost Cause propaganda.