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November 22, 2017

This might change your mind about Confederate monuments.

Spoiler alert: Dedication of Confederate monuments and other symbols intensified during the eras of Jim Crow and Civil Rights.

America is being crushed in a fight over tons of bronze and granite.

The debate over Civil War monuments, specifically Confederate monuments, has turned violent, and now that white supremacists have turned these items into rallying sites, the hate and viciousness will continue to increase.

The South is full of these monuments, as well as Confederate-named streets, schools and roads, and for many generations of Southerners, these remembrances have always been there.

New Orleans’ plans for a memorial to Robert E. Lee began in 1870, a year after the Confederate general’s death. The monument itself made its public debut in 1884.

Richmond, Virginia’s tribute to Lee was unveiled in 1890. Ironically, during his lifetime, Lee himself was opposed to the creation of Confederate memorials, fearing they might “keep open the sores of war.”

The Confederate Memorial of Arlington National Cemetery was dedicated in 1914.

 

Civil war dead
Do Confederate monuments memorialize the dead or promote old belief systems? (Image: Preparing the dead for burial in Fredericksburg, Virginia. National Archives)

 

In 1959, school officials in Jacksonville, Florida named a school in honor of Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest. The school was renamed in 2014, but data collected from Vocativ from the National Center for Education Statistics indicates that nearly 200 schools are still named for prominent Confederates.

A sculpture of Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis was installed in a Memphis park in 1964.

Carving on Stone Mountain’s three-acre sculpture of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson began in 1923 and was completed in 1972.

 

Southerners have a justifiable reason for wanting to honor the men and women who fought to protect their homes, and, many memorials came to fruition shortly after the war’s end.

But the timing of others seems sparked by other motivations.

According to data tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center, these tributes, and thousands of others, spiked during two prominent periods of U.S. history – the onset of Jim Crow (late 1800s- early 1900s) and the Civil Rights Movement (1950s and 1960s). To put things mildly, both periods were marked by heightened segregation, discrimination and violence against African-Americans. Both periods also coincide with Civil War anniversaries – the 50th and 100th.

It’s something to consider.

Confederate monument timeline
Click image to enlarge. Timeline for dedications of Confederate monuments. (Image: SPLC)

Author’s note: I have lived in the South for more than 30 years, and I love the diverse people and generous culture. It is my home, and I honestly could never live anywhere else. Like other Southerners, I believed the Confederate tributes had ALWAYS been there, and I struggled with understanding the controversy. However, I now understand thanks to a friend who inspired me to look into history of these monuments.

Copyright 2017, Kimberly Keller and Roadkill Goldfish. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Comment Policy: 

I welcome your feedback on this blog, but I will not tolerate personal attacks against me, my family or another commenter. It’s okay to disagree, but be respectful. Attack the issue, not the person. Vulgarity, racism, religion bashing, slams about sexual orientation, name calling, shameless self promotion, and generally being a jerk to others will send your comment to the trash bin. So play nice.

 


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