Should We Revere or Remember Our Harmful History? 

Jacob Rainsberger '23

Confederate monuments have been taken down in former confederate cities like New Orleans. Some argue that they should be kept, while others say that it’s they’re too painful to see and that it allows people to revere these figures, giving them pride of place. 

Confederate monuments on public property serve as a negative symbol of our history and should be transferred to a place, such as a museum, where their history can be remembered, not revered. 

While some argue the Civil War was about land and state autonomy, it was brought to a head because of the south’s economic interest in maintaining slavery. These monuments were created much later though, between 1890 and 1915, in what James T. Campbell said “the same period that saw the violent restoration of white supremacy in the southern states, including formal disfranchisement of black voters” and legal segregation and lynching. 

The monuments reminds African Americans among others of a time when their ancestors were oppressed and forcibly enslaved and oppressed. Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, notes that “enduringly charged symbols of the former Confederacy [add] to our fears…instead of embracing the promise of democracy in a diverse society.” The fear of charged symbols is especially relevant, in light of social justice protests and actions taken place throughout this past year.   

Important statues can still be remembered through history books, which has an extremely larger audience than a public sidewalk. One may say that the statues are not honored, but the rise of the confederate flag as a sign of the far right says otherwise. These confederate monuments were created by confederate supporters and members of white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan to help them gain followers. A monument in Jacksonville, Florida, depicts fallen southern soldiers with the phrase “our heroes,” clearly praising the confederate movement. 

The derogatory history of confederation monuments are stains to our land and should be removed. Speak out on this issue and address the grievances through petitions, funding of private museums, and educating the next generation.