Photo by by Dean Hinnant / Unsplash. Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Lisa Desjardins He might just want to hide the history, to move on, rather than face these issues.”, Left: the virtues and become Our history matters, and the way that we remember the Confederacy is an important part of that history. Why or Why Not? That’s where Confederate monuments fall short. Nearly 300 monuments and statues are in Georgia, Virginia, or North Carolina. In Centreville, Alabama, the United Daughters of the Confederacy described their “Confederate heroes” using the following text: “These were men who 6100 Main Street, Suite 305 Photo by by Dean Hinnant / Unsplash. But these monuments are tied to a divisive history and the denial of the Black American experience. “He said he was not interested in any monuments to him or – as I recollect – to the Confederacy,” explained James Cobb, history professor emeritus at the University of Georgia, who has written about Lee’s rise as an icon. Jenifer Bratter is an associate professor of sociology at Rice University and director of the Kinder Institute’s Program for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Culture. At the root of the problem is racism. Thank you. Rather than merely coinciding with Jim Crow laws or pushback against civil rights progress, the act of erecting monuments to the Confederacy was another plank in the platform to promote white supremacy and rewrite history. Along Richmond, VA's manicured Monument Avenue, statues of Confederate leaders stand among pristine trees and a grassy mall.As of June 10, there is one less Confederate statue for passersby to see. Most have been removed. Numerous other Southern communities, large and small, are reconsidering the future of the Southern soldiers in marble and bronze that stand watch over their town squares and courthouses. As the deaths of black men and women resulting from police violence continues in America, protestors in cities large and small are calling for the end of systemic inequalities and police brutality. The momentum to remove Confederate memorials … even to the heroism of death Some want them to remain, claiming they are part of their heritage. to the Confederacy? Removal may be symbolic, but it can jump-start a conversation and help us move forward on structural change. No amount of words can alter the signal that is sent by these monuments being positioned in a place of prominence. Confederate monuments are not teaching tools, they are monuments … We chose to let the moment pass. The statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was hauled down by protesters in Richmond, Va., the old capital of the slave South, within hours of Trump embracing the symbols of the Confederacy. The monuments go up because, without Washington, there likely would not have been an American nation. Forthcoming research by Christina Simko, David Cunningham and Nicole Fox suggests that places that accomplish this are in a better position to maintain meaningful conversations about inequality, even after the monument is removed. Learn more about Friends of the NewsHour. worthy of their sires.”. However, this time we carry even more baggage because we chose not to make changes five years ago. Horn leaned toward yes, though he noted that it’s impossible to compare Lee’s views in the 1860s with the situation today. Historians are clear on the fact that the Civil War was not motivated by states’ rights. Here are some ways to address it. The Make It Right Project has begun working with local activists, academics and citizen journalists in Denton, Texas, to take down the town’s Confederate monument.. Erected in 1918 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the marker has now stood for a century on the grounds of the county court. “But he didn’t want a cult of personality for the South.”. Even here in Houston, students at Rice University are asking for the statue of William Marsh Rice — the university’s founder and a slave owner — to be removed. Monuments dedicated to this historical moment — the year we came together during a global pandemic to fight for equality, for life — could be a truly inspirational and uniting public symbol. And not just Confederate monuments. A statue of Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army, is seen in the Crypt of the Capitol in Washington. Still, some may argue that the past is the past and it has no bearing on today. Like the Vietnam memorial in Washington, D.C., an apt memorial for the Confederacy is a scar, not an heroic statue. However, more is needed to address the systemic racism and institutional discrimination that is at the root of the issue. At the center of the “Unite the Right” rally that turned deadly in Charlottesville last weekend was a protest of the city’s plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. COVID-19 and Cities, Demographics, Education, Governance, Urban Disparity, COVID-19 and Cities, Education, Health, Urban Disparity, COVID-19 and Cities, Demographics, Housing, Urban Disparity, Education, Governance, Health, Urban Disparity. They offer comfort to some (white Southerners who view the confederacy as a key part of their heritage), but they exclude (white non-Southerners) and outright reject (Black Americans) others. Why does the removal of Confederate monuments remain in public conversation? No one puts a monument up to Washington or Jefferson to promote slavery. “As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated,” Lee wrote of an 1866 proposal, “my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; [and] of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour.”. Lee himself was conflicted about the core issues of his day. Follow the Kinder Institute on social media. Erecting new statues or replacing names on buildings serves to expand who we honor and how we see our history. As Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center puts it: “The Daughters have done more with monuments, textbooks, and other propaganda to bolster the image of the Confederacy … “Lee believed countries that erased visible signs of civil war recovered from conflicts quicker,” Horn said. They are designed to inspire emotion and recall a shared history. We cannot afford to do that again. Heather O’Connell is a professor of sociology at Louisiana State University. a priceless heritage of Honor.”, “It is a duty we owe to In his writings, Lee cited multiple reasons for opposing such monuments, questioning the cost of a potential Stonewall Jackson monument, for example. Is it appropriate for cities/states to publicly display monuments (flags, statues, etc.) by the simple manhood of Yet in Richmond, which has no shortage of public memorials to defenders of white supremacy, there has been comparatively little outcry. Leaving them where they stand suggests that they — and the history they represent — are important. Academics and writers vigorously debate his sentiments and strengths, but historians seem to agree on Lee’s views about memorials. In fact, they celebrate rebellion. Lee advocated protection of just one form of memorial: headstones in cemeteries. Subscribe to Here’s the Deal, our politics newsletter for analysis you won’t find anywhere else. But we want to close with a cautionary reminder: Ultimately, the issue of monuments and names is a symbolic one. have preserved for us Big statues in prominent public spaces erected to make a point about the supposed glories of the Confederacy should come down and be transferred elsewhere (ideally to museums or battlefields). True healing will begin only when the pressure of racist monuments is removed from African Americans' necks. But while he was alive, Lee stressed his belief that the country should move past the war. Lisa Desjardins. This column has been updated to correct the … From Charlottesville, Va., to New Orleans, La., the removal of Confederate statues from public spaces and the debates over their removal are making national news. Returning to a familiar and difficult conversation. Answer the following question using at least THREE SOURCES. s academic quad. If white people truly mean well, they must make an unflinching commitment to the tough, unpleasant and honest work of authentic change. California once had far more Confederate monuments and place names than any state outside the South. Even Lee, as cruel and brutal as we now know him to have been, knew there should be no monuments to him, or to anyone of the Confederacy which had been defeated on the field of battle. White supremacists, neo-Nazis and others have protested the removal of Confederate monuments. Research demonstrates this relationship for poverty, school segregation, use of the death penalty, health outcomes and more. Op-Ed: California removes almost all of its Confederacy … “It’s often forgotten that Lee himself, after the Civil War, opposed monuments, specifically Confederate war monuments,” said Jonathan Horn, the author of the Lee biography, “The Man Who Would Not Be Washington.”. To lavish praise on those who fought for the Confederacy and leave prominent monuments honoring their cause is to deny the brutal reality of the people who were enslaved. Some places heeded that call — the Confederate battle flag flying over the SC state capitol came down; monuments in Baltimore were contextualized and later removed — but most ignored it. This article was produced by Make It Right, a project of the Independent Media Institute.. Lee died in 1870, just five years after the Civil War ended, contributing to his rise as a romantic symbol of the “lost cause” for some white southerners. “But you have to ask why [he would remove them]. A compromise proposes adding plaques to contextualize the monuments and explain their origins. “I don’t think that means he would have felt good about the people who fought for the Confederacy being completely forgotten,” Cobb added. Removing a monument or renaming a building are steps toward using symbols that better reflect shared values of equity and inclusion. There are many sides to this debate, and a corresponding list of actions to take. Robert E. Lee, who led the Army of Northern Virginia through the Civil War, opposed the construction of monuments commemorating the vanquished Confederacy. They do not inspire unity. Lisa Desjardins is a correspondent for PBS NewsHour, where she covers news from the U.S. Capitol while also traveling across the country to report on how decisions in Washington affect people where they live and work. Despite their removal, people who live in or were born in states that had these laws — Texas among them — are more likely to make racial classification decisions that reflect the continued existence of those boundaries. The statue is featured prominently on the Rice campus. Monumental changes require removing monuments to the Confederacy. But if we remove them outright, we run the risk of both forgetting the role they played and why their removal was called for in the first place. From frequent recurrences of police brutality and the widening gaps in access to opportunity, to the coronavirus’ outsized impact on communities of color, the invasive disease of racism has spread throughout the American system. Parents of Black/white biracial children are least likely to report their child’s race as “Black and white” on the census, and are more likely to opt for “Black alone” in states where the history of anti-miscegenation law is stronger. White supremacists, neo-Nazis and others have made monuments to the Confederate commanding general a flashpoint — at times marching to keep them standing. Americans once again are calling for and debating the removal of Confederate monuments. Ralph Northam ordered the removal of the monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond. by their sublime courage They put up monuments to T.J. because of the Declaration of Independence, which every group has used to make their place in American society. Rice University students are petitioning to have the statue of school founder William Marsh Rice removed from campus. We see this again when thinking more broadly about the ways we understand race and identity. Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts. “You think he’d come down in the camp that would say ‘remove the monuments,’” Horn posited. Last month, Virginia Gov. A … “I think it wiser,” the retired military leader wrote about a proposed Gettysburg memorial in 1869, “…not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.”, WATCH:The shifting history of Confederate monuments. our children shall know Why talk about this at all? To lavish praise on those who fought for the Confederacy and leave prominent monuments honoring their cause is to deny the brutal reality of the people who were enslaved. Finally, if that were not enough, there is even evidence that Confederate monuments are related to higher levels of Black-white inequality. Angry mobs are tearing down and defacing monuments across America. Raw emotions and a sharp political divide were revealed by an unsuccessful attempt in the 2019 session to make it far more difficult to remove monuments to the Confederacy … In the past month, new and greater focus has been placed on the need to address economic, environmental, educational and health care inequalities related to race in the U.S. For many years, systemic racism has limited access to housing as well. Recent evidence shows that placing monuments within a museum designed to educate the public on their racist legacy allows the audience to view them as a signal of the work that still needs to be done. Virginia State Troopers stand under a statue of Robert E. Lee before the white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017. It is clear that action is needed to address our public landscape. Confederate monuments are tied to a divisive history. In all, more than 30 monuments and symbols to the Confederacy have been dedicated or rededicated since 2000, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Confederate monuments are just that, monuments, tributes to those who fought for the Confederacy. to the principles of right, 6100 Main St. MS-208 But the Confederate general Robert E. Lee himself never wanted such monuments … “He was worried that by keeping these symbols alive, it would keep the divisions alive.”, Construction crews prepare a monument of Robert E. Lee, who was a general in the Confederate Army, for removal in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 19, 2017. He swore allegiance to the Union and publicly decried southern separatism, whether militant or symbolic. Worse, others responded by erecting new Confederate monuments. Of the more than 1503 public monuments and memorials to the Confederacy, more than 718 are monuments and statues. Please check your inbox to confirm. The Battle Over Confederate Monuments in New Orleans, The New Yorker Explore our featured collection, Reconstruction and the Fragility of Democracy , to engage your students in a discussion about the legacies of slavery and Reconstruction and the ideas surrounding citizenship and democracy in the United States today. Opinion Confederate Monuments Slavery America said goodbye and good riddance this month to yet another monument glorifying the Confederacy and lying about history on public grounds. Many municipalities in the United States have removed monuments and memorials on public property dedicated to the Confederate States of America (CSA), and some, such as Silent Sam in North Carolina, have been torn down by protestors. by their strict adherence Houston, TX 77005-1892. Five years ago, in the wake of the racially motivated mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, that left eight African American parishioners dead, we saw similar calls to action. Note to our readers: We are no longer giving away free PDFs of Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture by Karen L. Cox and Recalling Deeds Immortal: Florida Monuments to the Civil War by William B. Lees and Frederick P. Gaske. It was motivated by a desire to preserve the status quo and continue enslaving Black Americans. But he personally described slavery as a “moral and political evil” that should end. Research suggests otherwise. Anti-miscegenation laws legalized racial boundaries, but were abolished in 1967. posterity to see that The denial of the Black American experience is clear through the inscriptions on some of the monuments. They make no distinction between Confederate and Union, abolitionist and pro-slavery, 15th-century figures and 20th. Here, we take a look at findings from the Kinder Institute’s State of Housing report in the context of Settegast, a historically Black neighborhood in northeast Houston. Ralph Northam ordered the removal of the monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond. For now, the removal has been blocked by an injunction issued in one of several lawsuits. The Sons of Confederate Veterans and, in a quieter way, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the group that erected many of the monuments that are now the target of the biggest removal campaign in history, are pushing back by building new statues, buying land to house torn-down memorials, and airing radio and online ads seeking public support for their cause. Removed California So, here we are, again. “All I think that can now be done,” he wrote in 1866, “is … to protect the graves [and] mark the last resting places of those who have fallen…”. Removing them and doing nothing more masks the underlying systemic racism that supported their initial placement on public property. An op-ed in the New Orleans Times-Picayune last week used the video to argue: “In the kindest reading, ‘Gone With the Wind’ is romanticized fiction. However, this option ignores the importance of placement. For now, the removal has been blocked by an injunction issued in one of several lawsuits. Since the death of George Floyd, the United States has been in nothing short of a reckoning with systemic racism — a reckoning that has, in part, focused on how we remember our past. Like the some 680 other monuments still scattered across the Confederate and border states, those in New Orleans were meant to reaffirm the nobility and legitimacy of the “Lost Cause” of Southern independence and justify efforts to roll back the challenges to white supremacy posed by emancipation and so-called Radical Reconstruction. Subscribe to the Urban Edge to be notified when new stories are published. The fact is, if we can’t remove a monument, how are we going to tackle bigger changes? Removal of Confederate monuments and memorials is an ongoing process in the United States since the 1960s. A final, complementary option to consider is the addition of a new monument. The statue of Rice, who was a slave owner, is prominently located in the center of the school’ You know, you would think betraying your country and getting bodied for it hundreds of years ago would be enough to stop people from sympathizing with the Confederacy, but no… Officials with Gettysburg National Military Park said they have no plans to remove any of the park's 1,300-plus monuments, markers or plaques. They voice concern over a loss of heritage and argue that removing a monument accomplishes nothing. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman. Last month, Virginia Gov. A group of Democratic state lawmakers is working to make this year’s Confederate Heroes Day the last. We are witnessing the removal and, in some cases, outright toppling of statues commemorating the Confederacy. their lives, and unspeakable sacrifices, Would Lee have opposed his own monument today? All Rights Reserved. Kraft Hall The … through the gloom of defeat, It was meant to praise those who fought for the Confederate cause. But Lee himself never wanted such monuments built. It was left standing as a museum, to teach people. More than merely testimonies to the past, the division and inequality that slavery began remains steadfastly part of our day-to-day. Monuments are not just hunks of rock. Rice University Monuments to the Confederacy must come down. She is a former Kinder Institute fellow. Before the war, Lee opposed secession, but once his native Virginia voted to leave the Union he declared he was honor-bound to fight for the Confederacy. In “Prophetic City,” Stephen Klineberg shows us where change has taken Houston and where it’s likely to take the nation. But underlying it all was one rationale: That the war had ended, and the South needed to move on and avoid more upheaval. Houston, TX 77005-1892, Physical Address: The retired Confederate leader, a West Point graduate, was influenced by his knowledge of history. Mailing Address: Subscribe to ‘Here's the Deal,’ our politics newsletter. Some demand the Confederate monuments remain. In a 2016 report, the Southern Poverty Law Center said that the country’s more than 700 monuments were part of roughly 1,500 symbols of the Confederacy in public spaces. © 1996 - 2021 NewsHour Productions LLC. An experimental study examining voting behavior further demonstrates that there are real consequences to keeping Confederate symbols in public spaces: people who were primed — or subconsciously saw — a Confederate battle flag reported being less willing to vote for Barack Obama and higher levels of anti-Black attitudes. We see this in the higher levels of inequality between Blacks and whites in places where slavery was more concentrated. They are symbols of who we — as a society — are. 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