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Historians Debate America's History of Racism and Confederate Monuments

Historians in the News
tags: memorials, art history, monuments, public history



Statues have long been a way to honor leaders, benefactors, heroes and the war dead, giving them permanence and a three-dimensional presence.

Over the years, they have come to mean many things to different people, including a way to remember, a work of art or simply a place for pigeons to roost.

But increasingly some of those statues, particularly those honoring Confederate leaders or victories and those connected with slavery have become a flash point for many -- removed or destroyed because of the pain, suffering or oppression they represent.

This push, which has ebbed and flowed over the years, recently gained renewed momentum after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May, with statues either removed by protesters, the government or private organizations.

Not all agree that these historical representations should be taken down. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have denounced "rioters" for pulling down the statues.

Trump even signed an executive order to protect monuments, memorials and statues, and has tweeted about jailing protesters for up to 10 years.

"I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the U.S. with up to 10 years in prison," the president tweeted on June 23.

But as some fight to preserve the monuments, even a descendant of Lee, Rev. Robert Lee IV believes they should be taken down now.

Read entire article at ABC News

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