After white supremacists protested the removal of the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s statue in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, a renewed debate about what to do with Confederate statues arose in the American political systems. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “New York stands against racism,” when he announced the decision to remove the busts of Lee and Lt. Gen. Stonewall Jackson from The City University of New York’s Hall of Fame for Great Americans.
Other cities have now announced the removal of Confederate statues after the white supremacist rally that turned violent in Charlottesville last month. Many other cities, such as Baltimore and Jacksonville, are now making the appropriate and responsible decision to remove the statues of notable Confederates.
According to civilwar.org, in April of 1864, Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate Lt. Gen., surrounded Fort Pillow, near Memphis, and demanded surrender.
Although accounts varied, Union survivors claimed that the Confederates massacred many of the U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery men simply because they were outraged that the black men were wearing federal uniforms. Forrest also was a “Grand Wizard” and played a prominent role in the founding of the Ku Klux Klan, a group infamous for lynching blacks and actively participating in and promoting blatant racism. This man was most obviously committed to hate and the degradation of people of color, yet a statue of him stands in Memphis.
About the removal of statues, President Donald Trump said via Twitter, “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.” While some may agree with Trump that we are destroying history by taking down the statues, I do not.
Destroying history would involve removing the information from textbooks and/or banning it in school lessons. But these confederate statues simply glorify our dark past and those who made horrible things happen.
People died on both sides of the Civil War and remembering those who have fallen is nothing to be ashamed about. But lauding people who stood for nothing but hate is a contradiction to all of the progress that has been made in the last 50 years.
We should not have a statue of those whose greatest accomplishments involved murdering people of color; we should not stand for hate and racism.
These monuments were not put up to “remember history” but instead to remind people of color of their place in society during times of racial progress and the fallouts from them.
In fact, the construction of Confederate monuments soared during the Plessy vs. Ferguson Supreme Court case in 1896, again during the resurgence of the KKK in the 1920’s and more so when the Nation Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded.
We need to remember that the KKK committed acts of terror to assert white supremacy.
Moreover the heritage of the Confederacy was built mostly on hate and white supremacy.
Protested Confederate statues are placed on government property; the same government that the Confederate states rebelled against and seceded from. While Confederate monuments should be taken down, we should not forget, nor will we forget, the history of the Civil War and the many men and women who died defending their political views.