It’s About Damn Time: Many States Begin Removal of Confederate Monuments Following Charlottesville

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Following in the footsteps of Baltimore, many other cities across the United States have taken preliminary steps to remove their own Confederate monuments. This includes statues and plaques and the like, as well as schools, highways, and other facilities named for Confederate soldiers, even holidays. All told, the Southern Poverty Law Center identified about 1,503 items as of 2016. Moreover, the vast majority of statues and physical markers are located in what can be considered southern states; of the 718 monuments and statues, about 300 are located in Georgia, Virginia, or North Carolina.

As you already know, Charlottesville’s city council voted to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the newly-minted Emancipation Park. It was this decision that led to the violence that occurred over the weekend. As of right now, the statue’s removal is on hold as the city tries to figure out how to move forward after the protests and tragedy of the weekend. Gainesville, Florida has already moved one statue, and is in the process of raising funds to remove a second. One North Carolina statue was knocked over by protesters in response to what happened in Charlottesville.

Following the Charlottesville attack as well, Lexington, Kentucky mayor tweeted that they would be removing two Confederate monuments, writing, “I am taking action to relocate the Confederate statues. We have thoroughly examined the issue, and heard from many of our citizens.” In Los Angeles, California, a Confederate monument was removed from the historic Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where 30 Confederate veterans and their families are buried. New York’s Hall of Fame for Great Americans will also lose their busts of Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Donald Trump tweeted about the removal of all of these monuments this morning, in a tweetstorm that I’m sure his aides wish they could have stopped. In his tweets, he calls the statues “beautiful” and says that such beauty will “never be replaced.” He then goes on to repeat a lot of the talking points (read: incoherent babbling) he gave in his now-infamous “Both Sides” speech at Trump Tower, where he took questions from reporters against the advice of his aides and team.

These monuments should have been taken down ages ago, but it’s good to see that something’s finally being done about them across the country. But even with these ones moving or going down soon, there are still loads strewn all about the U.S., and there’s an even longer journey ahead to get those removed.

It’s funny (and a bit ironic, in the best way) to see that even though the “Unite the Right” rally may have delayed the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park, many more statues are being taken down everywhere else. That’s what happens when you rally together in the names of hate, intolerance, and prejudice—people see you for how you really are, and in some small way, the world responds to that. I’m happy to see these monuments go, but as always, it’s important to remember that while these statues of iron, lead, steel, and stone vanish, we must make sure we do the same to the hideous ideologies their defenders stand for. We still have a long journey to look forward to, but at the very least, that journey will look a little brighter without these monuments blotting out the road ahead.

(via CNN, image: screengrab)

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Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.
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