On this Juneteenth (Google it) the people in Decatur, Georgia have additional cause for celebration. The confederate statue found in the center of the downtown Decatur square has finally come down.
The statute was originally resurrected in 1908 by the Daughters of the Confederacy, the same year that the Georgia Constitution was amended to prevent African Americans from voting.
Decatur citizens became motivated after the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, VA in August of 2017. It took years and the intervention of the courts before the statue in support of the “lost cause” was removed. The move was over the change in law signed by Governor Kemp in 2019 which strengthened protection of these monuments while the rest of the country moved in the opposite direction.
This movement led by the Beacon Hill Alliance for Human Rights who “is committed to use the momentum and lessons from this victory to continue to root out the white supremacy and other forms of oppression wherever they may be found” says attorney Mawuli Davis who was instrumental in this fight.
As a part of the current movement, confederate symbols and statues are coming down all over America. People are finally starting to study history and see that these were not symbols raised solely to uplift those who fought against America … I mean symbols raised in support of the confederate army.
I know that is what many were taught and told. But who teaches their children and grandchildren “we were trying to intimidate people by reminding them of the darkest time in our country, showing symbols of who had power, and attempting to intimidate them with these symbols.” Instead they romanticized the Civil War and those who fought in favor of it by passing down false stories of a heroic heritage that fought solely against northern interference. Northern interference of what ….. slavery.
Don’t believe me … read a portion of what was inscribed on the Decatur monument “After forty two years another generation bears witness to the future that these men were of a covenant keeping race who held fast to the faith as it was given by the fathers of the Republic.” In translation, we put this monument up to remind the next generation about all the men who agreed that the way of life (the right to have slaves) guaranteed by the founders of America is the reason they fought to split America into two countries.
We now know, simply by looking at the timelines of their erection and the words they used when dedicating these monuments, that these symbols appeared each time America made a legal statement against racism. The Georgia flag for example was changed as a result of federally mandated school desegregation laws.
“Instead of choosing to heal the wounds of the American Civil War, they chose to keep them on display,” said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam as they removed the statutes in Virginia.
So now what? I know so many friends who say, “I wouldn’t fly the confederate flag but I understand that it’s people’s heritage.” We need those people to do some research and realize these symbols had nothing to do with heritage. For example, the current stars and bars used as a confederate symbol was not even flown during the Civil War, it was adopted much later. How does a symbol that didn’t exist at the time, become a symbol for heritage of the same time?
It is time for folks who quietly detest these symbols to boldly and loudly proclaim, these symbols memorialize people who supported slavery, people who supported splitting this great country, or symbols of people who supported suppression during Jim Crow and I can no longer turn a blind eye to them.
Years ago, I recommended that supporters of these symbols find a PRIVATE museum, one not supported by tax dollars, to put their statues. I don’t care what false history you worship on private property. I renew that recommendation because at least you have control over what happens to them. Otherwise, they will all eventually come down and it is quite possible you won’t like what happens to them when they do.