Week nineteen
Monumental Justice: 
Heritage or Hate? 

In the past several weeks, the history of the Confederate States of America and its icons have been the center of attention nationwide. Shortly after the racially-charged massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, where 21-year-old mass murderer Dylann Roof killed nine African-American church members in Bible study, the Confederate flag was removed from state capitol buildings in South Carolina and Alabama. 

After the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, the question of whether Confederate monuments should remain in public spaces has been met with controversy and protest. Are the Confederate monuments offensive? Are they symbols of Southern pride and heritage? According to a CNN 2015 survey, 75% of Southern whites view it as a symbol of pride and 15% view it as racism.  A poll was also taken with Southern African Americans where the results were almost completely reversed with 75% believing it is a symbol of racism and 11% seeing it as heritage.  (1)
Per a USA Today poll, there are over 1,000 Confederate monuments still in public spaces and they are not all in the Deep South.  (2) However, the period when most of the monuments were erected occurred shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson. At the turn of the 20th century during the Jim Crow era, African Americans became victims of public racial segregation, voter suppression and public lynchings. Monuments were soon erected to honor men such as Robert E. Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, who became the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. 
Timeline from " Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy," Southern Poverty Law Center. April 2, 2016

It is difficult to justify honoring figures who worked to divide this country with far fewer monuments recorded for those whose legacy built and continues to contribute to freedom and justice for all of America, not just sections of it. Where Do We Go From Here?

(2) Confederate monuments, more than 700 across USA aren't budging, Rick Hampton, USA Today, August 2017

Remove the Hate! 
  1. Read the Southern Poverty Law Center's special report, "Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy" for a historical overview of where, why and how the Confederate flag and monuments were used to send a public message of intimidation. 
  2. Review Resources for Educators, Parents and Families for methods to engage youth in meaningful discussions on social justice topics such as race using anti-bias framework.   
  3. Show your support for the removal of confederate statues on social media and share ways and ideas of how we can work towards getting it removed by engaging in the question posted in our 50 Weeks of Action Facebook Group.

The Confederate Statues Controversy:
A Look at the Past and the Present

(For Elementary, Middle, and High School Students) 
Workers begin removing confederate statue in Gainesville, FLA, 8/14/17.  Source: Newsela

The topic of the Confederate symbols and their history  can be challenging. This link from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) offers helpful tips for creating safe spaces for Engaging Young People in Conversations about Race and Racism

(For High School Students, Teachers and Parents/Guardians)  
Robert E. Lee Confederate Statue in New Orleans, LA  Source: Information of New Orleans - Own Work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Check out this piece by Wayde Grinstead and Facing History and Ourselves, 3 Angles to the Confederate Monument Controversy

In this piece, you will find other perspectives and at the end, you will find links to explore this topic further. Please discuss this issue with youth, teachers, parents and peers. 
For more info on current issues of social justice, visit Facing History's Charlottesville Roundup: Lessons to Use in Your Classroom Today

share your story! 
Have you taken action against something that symbolized hate or injustice? Have you made a difference by speaking out or doing something? Tell us about it. Share your story.