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Historical context behind the push to remove statues celebrating Confederate figures, others

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Posted at 6:41 PM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 18:41:37-04

Around the country and the world, statues have become targets.

Although the push to remove racially charged monuments isn't new, protesters have taken matters into their own hands.

In South Africa, a statue of former President Paul Kruger was vandalized by anti-racism activists. In London -- a Winston Churchill statue stands boarded up.

This comes after other monuments to slavers were vandalized and torn down.

Over the weekend in New Orleans, protesters took down a statue to slave owner John McDonough.

A Christopher Columbus statue in Boston was recently beheaded, another thrown into a river.

Across the United States, monuments to the Confederacy have been targeted.

“There are a lot of people that have expressed this concern that if we take down monuments, then we are destroying our history or removing our history,” said Christopher Bonner, assistant professor of history at the University of Maryland. “I would disagree with that. I think that's not at all what's happening.”

He says historians know these statues are not really about the Civil War.

Bonner points to a speech from when a Confederate statue was erected at the University of Mississippi in 1906.

“The person who was dedicating the monument was very clear about what was being memorialized,” said Bonner. “They said that former Confederate soldiers as valor, as noble as they were on the battlefield, they said that they were more important for the work that they did to restore white supremacy in the aftermath of the Civil War.”

Many city officials are addressing the movement.

In these 11 states, controversial statues have been taken down or are scheduled for removal: Alabama, Texas, Florida, New York, Michigan, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania.