are hundreds of Confederate statues left to tear down: It was good to
see that New Orleans tore down their Robert E. Lee Statue. But
according to the Southern Poverty Law Center there are more than
1,500 Confederate symbols on public property, including 718 statues
and monuments honoring Dixie.
statues of Confederate heroes are coming down in the South, yet
hundreds more remain. Hundreds. And yet, the Civil War ended over 150
we find ourselves solidly in the twenty-first century, why are we
still talking about
Why are they still a thing? These enduring memorials to white
supremacy and the enslavement of Black people are still standing, in
a nation that has not moved past America’s original sin and has
refused to address the pernicious and ubiquitous nature of racism.
Those who want the statues of Confederate generals, soldiers and
politicians to remain say they will lynch you if you dare try to take
Orleans placed itself on the right side of history when it took down
the statue of General Robert E. Lee, the last of four Confederate
monuments the city dismantled.
it plain when he spoke of “a city of any nations,” “a
rooted in slavery—the largest slave market in America where
hundreds of thousands of people were bought and sold.
rejects the notion that the Confederate monuments are about history.
“And it immediately begs the questions, why there are no slave
ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the
lynchings or the slave blocks,” he said in a speech last week.
The monuments, erected years after the Civil War, were all about
white supremacy and terrorism, just as the war was all about
maintaining slavery and white supremacy.
historic record is clear, the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and
P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men,
but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the
Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through
monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide
the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of
humanity,” Landrieu said. “After the Civil War, these
statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on
someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong
message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in
charge in this city,” he added.
Mississippi, GOP State Representative
to recent events in Louisiana by taking to Facebook and calling for
the lynching of those who remove Confederate statutes. The
apologized for his comment.
to a report from the
Poverty Law Center
year, there are 1,503 symbols of the Confederacy in public spaces,
including 718 monuments and statues, of which nearly 300 are in
Georgia, Virginia or North Carolina. In addition, 109 public schools
are named for Confederate heroes such as Lee, Jefferson Davis and
others. SPLC also noted there are 10 U.S. military bases named for
Confederates, 80 counties and cities, and 9 official Confederate
holidays in six U.S. states. That’s a lot of love for the
losing side and an unjust cause. There should be nothing but
condemnation and dishonor for folks who seceded from the Union and
fought for the right to keep Black people chained in their backyards.
of these monuments are not even in the South.
While a majority are in the former Confederacy, there are monuments
in Union states such as Iowa, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania;
pro-Union border states such as Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia and
Maryland, and states that were territories during the Civil War,
including Montana, Arizona and Oklahoma. While most people in
Kentucky fought for the Union, the state is filled with Confederate
monuments, including a towering 35-story obelisk at the birthplace of
Jefferson Davis in Fairview.
creation of these memorials reached their height between 1900 and
1930, then in the 1960s during the civil rights movement, as
New monuments are going up in this century, including 35 in North
move to remove these statues–which have received the support of
a violent and racist neo-Confederate movement and groups such as the
United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate
Veterans—has gained momentum following the terror attack at
Emanuel AME Church in Charleston on June 17, 2015. Since that time,
over 350 pro-Confederate flag rallies have taken place, as SPLC
city of Charlottesville, Virginia recently decided to remove its
statue of Robert E. Lee, prompting KKK-style white supremacist
rallies– complete with
with a minority of the city council against moving the statue, on the
grounds that we should not honor the Confederate cause, but should
not erase history.
to Edward H. Sebesta, an author and expert on the
the removal of the Confederate monuments is exposing the banal white
nationalist mindset of white America. He says people such as Signer
will become the obstacle to blocking the removal of the statues.
think everyone needs to know that the most serious opposition that
those who want to remove Confederate monuments face, isn’t
white supremacists, neo-Confederates, or the Republican Party. It is
a faction of public historians of which Kevin M. Levin, though he
declares himself emphatically to be a neutral on the topic, is, I
believe, the leading figure,” Sebesta told
argues that the push to remove Confederate memorials “will be
most undermined by a collection of academics who will construct
rationales and intricate arguments allowing those who want to keep a
white landscape to tell themselves that they are motivated by
sophisticated understandings of historical memory rather than race.”
He adds they will use Richmond, Virginia–which apparently has
committed to keeping their Confederate monuments in a rogues’
gallery on the tree-lined Monument Avenue mall, alongside a statue of
African-American tennis legend
an example to emulate.
choose to erect their own memorials against Dixie.
the Sarasota, Florida-based artist who became known for his
and burial of the Confederate flag
the South, took his efforts to all 50 states following the Charleston
murders. This led to the creation of the
Burn and Bury Confederate Flag Memorial,
part of a multimedia project exploring “the complexity of
identity, cultural appropriation and visual terrorism in the context
of Confederate iconography and African-American culture.” This
year’s event takes place on Memorial Day in Detroit.
goal of this annual action is to send a powerful message to the
nation, especially under the Trump presidency and alt right politics
that the Civil War is over, and the days of the Confederate Flag and
white supremacy are numbered,” Sims said in a statement to
is also a way to honor the memory of social justice soldiers who
fought against slavery and for Civil Rights and everywhere in
between, and those who continue to fight against contemporary
institutional and cultural white supremacy.” Sims is sending
the message that it is time for the Confederate flag to become a
symbol of “cathartic action,” leading to a new ritual for
healing and transformation.
in the meantime, the Confederate statues must continue to topple.
This commentary was originally published by The Grio