Righting an Injustice or American Taliban? The Removal of Confederate Statues
Southern New Hampshire University
In recent years, several racial instances have occurred in the United States that have reinvigorated and demanded action concerning Confederate flags, statues and symbology. The Charleston massacre in 2015 prompted South Carolina to finally remove the Confederate battle flag from state grounds. The Charlottesville riots in 2017 accelerated the removal of Confederate statues from the public square. However, the controversy has broadened the discussion of how the Civil War monuments are to be viewed, especially in the public square. Many of the monuments were not built immediately following the Civil War, but later, during the era of Jim Crow and the disenfranchisement of African Americans during segregation in the South. Are they tributes to heroes or are they relics of a racist past that sought not to remember as much as to intimidate and bolster white supremacy? This work seeks to break up the eras of Confederate monument building and demonstrate that different monuments were built at different times (and are still being built). The monuments reflect other events in the country happening at the time, as well as the thinking of those who built them. This author hopes that these nuances will add to the general discussion and the usual three responses toward the statues of either taking them down to either destroy them, keep them, but add context, or place them in museums, cemeteries or private property. These nuances are important, possibly rendering all three as valid decisions. This author will use multiple lenses, including Union, Confederate, and African American lenses as interpreters for the various eras discussed.