I have always been taught when you know better, you should do better. This lesson also applies to history.
The 1,000s of (Confederate) memorials across the United States were the result of efforts by White Southerners and a few Northerners with clear political objectives. The South was fighting to resist the political rights for Black citizens. Jim Crow and White supremacy can be linked directly to the raising of the statues.
You can read for yourself the 1913 dedication of the on-campus monument honoring the UNC students who fought for the Confederacy. Industrialist Julian Carr urged his audience to devote themselves to the maintenance of White supremacy with the same vigor that their ancestors had defended slavery.
He then boasted, “One hundred yards from where we stand, less than 90 days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse-whipped a Negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady.”
Southern memorials inherently celebrated the slave South and White power along with the heroism of Confederate soldiers. It’s not a celebration for all of us. The states’ right to grow economically on the backs of enslaved people, whipped and treated as less than human, was a deeply moral issue.
I saw the gentleman from Onancock’s response to Bill Payne’s letter to the editor. That gave me hope that there is the opportunity for education and intelligent debate on this matter. I agree with his premise, but let’s also consider a donation to a museum, where one can choose to go and be educated on the evil that Confederate statues represent.
Consider a fountain or art we can all enjoy, rather than a perceived whitewash that the Confederate soldier’s mission could be remedied by adding a Black union soldier.
Let us keep the conversation going and get to a solution we can all live with. When you know better … You should do better.
Finale Norton, Jamesville