Beginning sensitive to figures that are no longer
Beginning with Dylann Roofs attempt to start a “race war” by killing 9 African Americans in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, many people feel like there is a serious division between races. Dozens of Confederate monuments located around the United States were brought to attention due to the violence from a white nationalist rally protest in defense of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville,Va, where a counter protester was killed and many injured. Most government officials have called to remove statues, monuments, markers, and signs that are relation to the Civil War era from the public area because all of the controversy and aggression that comes with it. There has been major debate if people are being highly sensitive to figures that are no longer of importance. It has been more than 150 years since the Civil War has ended, but because of recent white nationalist activities people feel as if there is no need to keep historical marks that contain racist symbols from America’s dark history of slavery and racial separation. These statues are allowing others, such as white nationalists, to act out in a certain way because the people they look up to are being recognized in the community. Others say that those statues were put there for a reason and that they mark history and honor the heritage of the United States in ways that do not have to do with racial separation. Some people also say that the removal of statues is a waste of the government’s time and effort. There were plenty of people involved with the government, including Vice Mayor of Lexington Steve Kay, who said that the removal of statues has been addressed for many years but it took many things to fall into place for everyone to agree on it, and for this to actually happen. The Southern Poverty Law Center identified 1,503 Confederate place names and symbols in public spaces, but it is hard to tell if they are offensive because areas such as battlefields, and monuments lack the pro- Confederate symbolism. The National Register of Historic Places does not have a list that contains the details of memorials dedicated to the Confederates. Relocation of statues has been a popular decision amongst many states in the United States. Starting with Lexington, Kentucky; Mayor Jim Gray shared that the statues of John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckinridge would be relocated instead of fully destroyed. Breckinridge and John Hunt Morgan, the last Confederate Secretary of War and the former U.S. Vice President, have been located in Lexington for over 130 years. Relocation is the best way the statues would not be destroyed, or entirely erased from history, but honored through the relocation. Both statues have been stored in a private facility until being buried in a Lexington cemetery. In an interview with Take Back Cheapside activists one man says, “As the Great Grandson of a slave, this is amazing, as just a person that lives in Lexington, this is amazing. I am so proud of our government and our city, and this a move forward.” That is one example of the thousands who have come out on all sorts of social media platforms to share how happy they are that these “important” people of the past are being “erased” from the public eye for good. Many believe that this incident in Charlottesville has opened eyes to the government and will continue to create more change in equality and change the system of such free protesting against hate and division of races. Robert E. Lee is one of the most controversial memorials when it comes to the removal of statues. On August 12th 2017, during a protest of Lee, thirty four people were injured and one person died due to a Nazi supporter driving his car into a crowd. Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee was seen as a heroic symbol of the South, but was also considered a racist icon to many. While he did not have much money, he inherited multiple slaves from his mother. He also married into the Custis family, which is the wealthiest slave owning families in Virginia at the time. In an article from Chicago Tribune by Russell Contreras, he stated that “Documents show Lee was a cruel figure with his slaves and encouraged his overseers to severely beat slaves captured after trying to escape. One slave said Lee was one of the meanest men she had ever met.” Although that quote is vague from exactly who is saying it and where it is coming from, in a letter by Lee in 1856 Robert E. Lee wrote that “God would be the one responsible for emancipation and black were better off in the U.S than Africa.” He also defined slavery as “moral and political evil”. In Austin, Tex., Brooklyn, New York, and Durham, N.C. Robert E. Lee was removed from the public eye. In Austin, Texas, on August 21, 2017 both Robert E. Lee and Confederate General Albert Sindey Johnston were removed out out of respect for the tragedy in Charlottesville. In Brooklyn, a tree was planted near a Episcopal church in the 1940’s with a plaque honoring Robert E. Lee. There is also a place in the City of New York’s Hall of Fame for Great Americans for both Robert E. Lee and Lt. Gen. Stonewall Jackson. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York tweeted in regard to this issue, “New York stands against racism, there are many great Americans, many of them New Yorkers worthy of a spot in this great hall. These two Confederates are not among them.” Diocesan officials said they had multiple threats after Lee’s plaque was taken down. This shows that not everyone will be satisfied with the decisions that are being made on the removal of the statues. In contrast, on August 14, 2017 Durham N.C. protesters removed a statue by hand of a Confederate soldier in front of Durham’s County Courthouse. Just a few days later on August 19, 2017 Duke University removed a statue of Robert E. Lee that was located outside of the Duke Chapel. Also in the college town of Gainesville, Florida the Confederate statue known as “Old Joe” has been decided by the Alachua County Board of Commissioners to be removed from the Alachua County Administration Building and relocated to the Daughters of Confederacy.The removal of statues is something that is taken very seriously this year. Not only were many people grieving over the Charlottesville incident, they soon became educated on the topic and the history behind the men who were being recognized. The Memoria In Aeterna statue in Tampa honors Confederate soldiers in front of the county courthouse. Instead of just removing the statue, the board decided that the monument would be removed if donations of at least $280,000 would be made. Only a few days went by and $52,000 of donations were made using GoFundMe.com. The rest of the money made was donated by various Tampa teams such as the Rays, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Lightnings. People see this opportunity to donate as a way of giving back respect to the families affected by the incident in Charlottesville. In a quote made by the team, ” Now more than ever before, we must stand united and committed to diversity and inclusion as we all attempt to heal from the tragedy in Charlottesville.” Not only have statues from Confederates been removed all around the United States, statue’s that glorify racist behavior are no longer wanted as neighborhood art. In Annapolis, Md. A statue of Roger B. Taney was removed on August 18, 2017. The reason for this is because Justice Taney was the chief author of the Dred Scott decision in 1857, this ruled that African American’s of all types, free and enslaved, could not be American citizens. In Alabama the situation is quite different. State laws prohibit the removal of a monument, but says nothing about covering it from the public eye. Mayor William Bell of Birmingham has covered a Confederate monument with a plastic drape and plywood structure for protection purposes. He stated, “This country should in no way tolerate the hatred that the KKK, neo-Nazis, fascists and other hate groups spew. The God I know does not put one race over another.” Although there is a large percentage of people who want the statues gone, there are some who would rather the memorials be present in their neighborhood. In response to Mayor William Bell of Birmingham, Alabama’s Attorney General, Steve Marshall, is threatening to sue both the city and Bell, claiming that the state law prohibits alteration or any other disturbance of any monument that has been on public property for 40 years. In Missouri the United Daughters of the Confederacy has requested that the “Loyal Women of the Old South” monument should be moved from its Ward Parkway location. The reason for the move is that it has already been vandalized by the public and the 1934 9 – foot moment should be protected and preserved. In Arizona Governor Doug Ducey wanted no part of making the decision to remove any monuments. He thinks that the best decision is leaving it up to the public. In his statement he says, “It is not my desire or mission to tear down any monuments or memorials. We have a public process for this. If the public wants to be engaged on this, i’d invite them to get engaged in it.” This decision may turn into chaos within the public, causing riots and destruction to property. I think that there should be some guidelines for what people could do to these statues, and it may be best to move them to a preservation instead of watching people release their frustrations towards the movement in a public place .Pennsylvania has also declined in partaking in the movement of removing Confederate statues. In the Gettysburg National Military Park, soldiers of the Battle of Gettysburg and men who served in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia are memorialized. Park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon claims that they have not received any complains or requests to take anything down and that these memorials are an important part of the cultural landscape.Although there has been major debate if historical monuments in relation to Confederates are still appropriate as public art around the United States, there will never be a mutual agreement amongst all people. As I have shown above, many states are participating in this movement out of respect for the majority. I believe as long as the statues are removed properly and kept in protective care there is no need for them to be in public places and risk being vandalized.