From 2018 to 2020

Long before the Pandemic, the nationwide protesting, the chaos of 2020, removing Confederate monuments became a popular statement that protesters would make in all kind antiracism rally. One of the cases which left me the most memorable impression was the removal of the Confederate Monument in UNC, also known as Silent Sam. Like many other confederate monuments I have visited in the past, Silent Sam was vandalized multiple times before it was pulled down. This hundred and five years old monument was pulled down by protesters on the night of August 20, 2018. For the people on the rally, it is a symbol to “tear down UNC’s white supremacy.”

For all the confederate monuments across the United States, they are all facing the same problem, would they be the next monument on the removing list? I believe the deeper question about those monuments is this: is the confederate monument a historic artifact, or a political statement? I think instead of thinking do monuments belong in a museum, think do they have a place in the museum is better to suit the current environment we are living in. The study of history is not isolated from our political environment, the public opinion. And so far many people see those monuments as a symbol of racism and the failure of the system. In the past months, we have seen the painting of the BLM slogans on a lot of monuments, and many of them have been removed or vandalized during the riots.

I recently visited the Vicksburg national park which contains multiple confederate monuments. In some ways, those monuments belong to this public “museum.” But what worries me is if the people cannot stand one confederate monument on their public street, how can they be ok for more of the monuments stand on their public land?

One Comment

  1. The distinction of public land is really important here I think. As you suggest, that’s a very different thing from privately owned or erected monuments. I wonder if you or others think Vicskburg, Gettysburg, etc are an exception? Monuments there are arguably contextualized by other monuments in the landscape


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