Editor, the Advocate:
I recently read a headline stating that mayor Rawley McCoy believed in a community “that includes everybody.” To promote inclusion, we must disassemble the things that divide us. A glaring symbol of this is “The Last Stand,” a statue of a confederate soldier that stands “immutable” in historic town square. The statue itself exists as a relic that memorializes a divisive war that split the nation in two. It fails to represent the community’s diverse identity and the mayor’s proclaimed goal of inclusivity, and should be removed from its location.
The preservation of slavery was the central goal of the Confederacy. In the “Cornerstone Speech” of Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy, he stated that the Confederacy’s “cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” Knowing this, how can we memorialize the Confederacy in town square without romanticizing or supporting these ideas?
Black children and other children of color visit downtown regularly on school and family visits. Can any elected official in our area look a black child in the eye and tell them that they should be proud of that monument knowing that those Confederate soldiers fought to continue the forced enslavement of that child’s family?
We would not erect statues of British riflemen in Boston. We would not erect statues of Mexican soldiers from the Alamo in San Antonio. Their descendants still live there. Why are we still honoring the Confederacy in the United States of America knowing that the descendants of slaves still live and work in these communities?
Many may state that they wish to honor their relatives who fought for the Confederacy. I understand their commitment to remembering their family history, but it has no place in a community space. “Family history” is not sufficient justification to honor the divisive results of confederate prejudice.
Town square is a location of honor. We will represent the history our community more fairly without the statue there. There are numerous museums and private entities in our community that would be willing to display the Pompeo Coppini statue with the proper historical context. Doing so would preserve the history but, hopefully, share it with a context that is accurate without glorifying tragedy. It is time to make this public gathering place a location “that includes everybody.”
Gavin Ellis, Houston, formerly of Bloomington