Alabama lawmakers passed legislation Friday to protect Confederate monuments and other historical landmarks.
The bill “would prohibit the relocation, removal, alteration, renaming, or other disturbance of any architecturally significant building, memorial building, memorial street, or monument that has stood on public property for 40 or more years.”
Permission would also need to be granted by a state commission to alter names or memorials installed between 20 and 40 years ago.
An amendment was added to the bill by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey at the recommendations of several lawmakers, which clarified that schools could change locations and do renovations, but could not alter the names.
Several African-American lawmakers vehemently opposed the bill during the legislative process, arguing the monuments commemorate a shameful legacy of slavery.
Sen. Hank Sanders, an African-American Democrat, said: “You say we are protecting history. We are not protecting history. We are protecting monuments that represent oppression to a large part of the people in the state of Alabama.”
Lawmakers in support of the bill countered that the measure should protect all kinds of history that it not limited to Confederate monuments.
One supporter, Sen. Gerald Allen, took aim at the “wave of political correctness” sweeping the nation and eliminating monuments dedicated to people that were historically significant, despite those individuals having inherent personal flaws.
Another advocate brought into question whether “sanitizing” our history was really the best option, referring to the case in New Orleans and the removal of some of its Confederate monuments.
Several other Southern cities are in discussion to remove some Confederate monuments from public property and add statues to honor civil rights figures. Others cities are considering adding plaques to existing monuments to offer historical context about slavery and the legal segregation that ensued, according to a Yahoo! News report.
Officials in New Orleans have been removing several Confederate monuments. The proposed removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, prompted a torch-lit protest and a candle-lit counter-demonstration there.
Birmingham’s park board has approved a resolution to remove a 52-foot-tall Confederate monument in a downtown park in 2015, prompting a legal challenge from a Southern heritage organization.
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