While many claim the removal of Confederate statues across the country would erase America’s history and tarnish the legacies of many Americans, removing Confederate statues and changing the names of schools named after Confederate leaders is a necessary step in confronting America’s dark past. The pain that these monuments evoke in people, particularly in black Americans, is particularly indicative of the damaging effects of these monuments. These statues glorify and celebrate the men who openly rebelled against the United States and fought for slavery, the most horrific chapter of America’s history. The legacy of slavery remains highly pervasive in the lives of millions of black Americans, and these statutes serve no purpose but to remind, perhaps maliciously, African-Americans of the pain that their ancestors endured. As long as these statues continue to stand, they serve as a dark reminder that racism remains a prominent aspect of modern America.
If people aspire to preserve America’s history, a museum could be an appropriate place for these pain-invoking statues. Preserving and glorifying history are two vastly different things: one serves to prevent past mistakes from repeating themselves, while the other fails to acknowledge the gruesome nature of that history.
Interestingly, the vast majority of Confederate statues were built during the Civil Rights Movement and around the time of the formation of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Why does the construction of these controversial statues perfectly correspond with the movements to promote racial equality? To commemorate traitors who lived 100 years before the statues were constructed? Or to remind black Americans of their inferior status?
Consider Germany, which also housed a harrowing chapter of history. Germany’s streets are void of Nazi statues, and there’s no Adolf Hitler High School. Has the Holocaust been forgotten in Germany, simply erased from history? No. Rather, WWII museums and Holocaust remembrance memorials preserve Germany’s nightmarish history without offending the relatives of Jews during the Holocaust (or Holocaust survivors themselves).
Would it be acceptable for a young Jewish boy to attend Adolf Hitler Elementary School? If not, then why do we allow young Black Americans to be zoned to Robert E. Lee High School? Obviously, there is a difference between Hitler and Lee, but they both fought wars built on discrimination and white supremacy. These statues serve no purpose other than to commiserate the lives of disloyal rebels against America and to remind African-Americans of their long history of inferiority and should be moved out of communities and into history museums.