Should all Confederate statues be removed? | The Tylt
Should all Confederate statues be removed?
Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington, Kentucky, announced he'll be removing statues celebrating Confederate leaders from the city in the wake of violent protests by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. The statues would be removed from prominent positions at Lexington's courthouses to a nearby park that celebrates veterans.
Gray is one of many mayors who are removing statues and symbols of the Confederacy from prominent places in their respective cities. Many of these statues went up during the 1920s and the Civil Rights era as a way to demonstrate opposition to racial equality. New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu explains why many of the statues were erected:
“They were not statutes that were put up to honor those particular men,” he said. “It was to send a message that the Confederacy was really the right cause, and not the wrong cause.”
The symbols we choose to have in our public spaces show what we value as a society. These statues to Confederate men are not small, inconspicuous statues. They're designed to be large and imposing. They're in prominent city spaces, overlooking courthouses and plazas where the public gathers.
Confederate soldiers were un-American when they took up arms to defend slavery 150 years ago and they remain un-American today. It's time to stop celebrating them.
Some historians say statues to Confederate officials should be left where they are, so people can confront America's struggles with racial equality. The statues may present a deeply flawed understanding of U.S. history and the South but they are important markers for American history and society. Removing them won't change anything.
These statues were often raised in the 1920s and Civil Rights era as a way to justify segregation and Jim Crow. The statues commemorate more than the Confederacy—they commemorate the hate that went into oppressing Black Americans long after the Civil War ended. This is not something that should be glossed over and swept under the rug.
Instead, historians suggest erecting new statues that provide a more inclusive and accurate account of what happened:
And those who seek to challenge a specific Confederate monument’s message directly might consider an alternative—supplementing a statue with a marker that provides historical context about its origins and meaning. A group of students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has proposed installing just this sort of plaque next to Silent Sam, a Confederate statue erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy on the campus in 1913.