Hate or legacy: Residents share thoughts on removing symbols of Confederacy

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CLAY COUNTY – Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry recently announced nearly a dozen confederate statues and memorials will be removed from city grounds. There also are plans to rename several military bases.

It comes on the heels of worldwide protests following George Floyd’s death, police brutality and systemic racism.

Curry isn’t alone in his decision. Mayors and other leaders have announced similar plans to take down confederate statues and memorials. The idea behind doing so is that confederate statues and memorials are about the confederate side of the Civil War, which was the side traditionally grouped into being pro-slavery.

Clay Today asked its readers what they think about Curry’s decision and they responded with more than 3,000 social media engagements and 100 comments.

The comments are what you’d expect: a wealth of opinions ranging from people happy to see the monuments being removed to people opposed to it.

Some believe the statues and memorials, much like the confederacy, are a part of American history and because of that, they should not be removed. Doing so is destroying history, one comment said.

The other side believes that the statues and memorials should be removed and placed in museums with historical context explaining what they represent.

“If they are all removed, then what will remind us of where we have been as a country?” Dawn Wilson asked on Facebook. “What will stand to remind us of how far we have come? What will remind us to keep moving forward? If these reminders of our past are not in our present then we will only repeat the same mistakes we have made.”

Lidia DeAngelo responded and said, “I didn’t realize all of the books were destroyed,” alluding to the fact that the history behind these monuments will be accessible in textbooks and other nonfiction books. LaDonna Martin agreed with Wilson, citing that the Confederacy’s role in the Civil War is a part of this country's history. She said taking away a statue doesn’t erase history. They pay tribute or honor those that were a part of history, she said, and removing, defacing or destroying them is wrong.

Others like Janet Brooks and Sharon Ivins believe these kinds of statues and memorials to be important in that they can help prevent history from being repeated. Clay County resident Heather Harris posed a counter to those who believe statue and memorial removal to be an erasure of history.

“You can’t erase history is the point often raised in arguments against removing symbols of the Confederacy,” Harris said. “That’s true, but we re-evaluate history and change what we choose to honor through statues, holidays, names of buildings, schools, streets, etc. I feel the statues should be moved to historical museums.”

“Confederate history hasn’t been ‘erased,’ but its images are less on display. The suffering in this era should be remembered and not forgotten. What history is being preserved for the future generations? It should be done in a way for healing but for education as well.”

Becky Price offers a parallel take on the matter, citing that she finds that the United States has a “love affair with defeated enemies,” in this instance, the Confederacy which did lose in the Civil War.

“I have always been amazed that the United States had a love affair with defeated enemies,” Price said. “It never made any sense. Many of them were able citizens before they turned traitor. But, so many of those monuments were installed to enforce Jim Crow laws and demonstrate to black people that they were trash. That is what makes them dangerous.”

There are some other opinions in the comments of the post different from the two camps touched on above. Some feel historical markers and memorials that say “a Civil War battle was fought here” should remain.

“It’s not just statues,” Justin Cran said. “Historical markers are also being removed. The removal of a face to the action of our confederate history – statues – fine, but removing the displays of where certain battles took place or displays of historical significance of a specific area does not make sense.”

What do think of all of this? The post on Facebook was posted on June 11 and is still present. Leave a comment telling Clay Today what your thoughts on the subject are: should they be removed, left up, placed in museums or destroyed?

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