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Alan Stock: Doubling Down on Statues

By Alan Stock

How do you bring the entire country together without respecting those who hold opposing views?  You can’t.

As most societies have done, Americans have erected statues and named cities, schools and streets after historical figures.  In the southern states these honors focused on many who supported secession and the Confederate Civil War effort.  It pained many southerners that they lost the war.  It pained many blacks in the south that honors were bestowed upon those who overtly or covertly supported slavery.  So what to do?

Taking down the statues would satisfy many African-Americans while at the same time upsetting those who have a familial attachment to the past.

The statues are representative of the past – positive for some, not so positive for others.  They very much do represent how things were done, not how things are being done today.  Whether some folks want to admit it or not, things have changed drastically in the south and in the rest of the country.  If communities want them to remain, why not let this happen with the understanding that this is a history we have come from?  How could we mitigate the discomfort the statues might have for other people?

Despite the racism that held many black Americans down for many years, many in their ranks rose up to great accomplishments.  Why not promote statues of these successful Americans to be placed next to the statues of old?  It would represent where we were at one time, where we came from and the evolution that brings us where we’re at today.

Next to a statue of Robert E. Lee who hailed from Virginia, a statue should be erected of Booker T. Washington, a fellow Virginian who founded the Tuskegee Institute and was an advisor to presidents.

Next to a statue of Jefferson Davis, why not honor abolitionist/author Frederick Douglass who edited a black newspaper for 16 years?

Why shouldn’t agricultural genius George Washington Carver have a statue erected next to the statue of Confederate Brigadier General Albert Pike that resides in the Judiciary Square neighborhood of Washington, D.C.?

Statues of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall and many other African-Americans should be placed side by side with the statues of yesterday.

Teach our children history; don’t cover it up.  Let them know where we have come from, how we addressed yesterday’s wrongs and how so many never let the past get in the way of working toward a positive future.

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