As Confederate monuments around the country are becoming targets for removal, the families of the figures they represent are speaking out. According to the great-great-grandson of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, they should be taken down.
Jackson’s great-great-grandson, Jack Christian, said that he used to believe the statues on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, which include southern Civil War heroes like Jackson, needed to have explanatory text that put them into context.
After seeing the events that unfolded in Charlottesville over the weekend, Christian now believes there is no peaceful way to leave the monuments in place. He said monuments like those were constructed as symbols of racism, The Associated Press is reporting.
“They were constructed to be markers of white supremacy. They were constructed to make black people fearful,” Christian reportedly said. “I can only imagine what persons of color who have to walk and drive by those every morning think and feel.”
Christian does want to see the statues preserved, but they should not be available for public display, he said.
Another descendant, Robert E. Lee V, the great-great-grandson of General Robert E. Lee, reportedly said it would make “good sense” to move monuments like those depicting his grandfather to museums so that they could be put in historical context.
A descendant of Confederate President Jefferson Davis echoed that sentiment, saying a museum is a more appropriate setting for the monuments.
Bertram Hayes-Davis, a great-great-grandson of Davis, reportedly said: “Complete removal is wrong.” He believes, like Lee’s grandson, that putting the statues “in a historic place where the entire story can be explained is the best outcome for the American public.”
Two of Jackson’s descendant’s, Jack Christian and his brother Warren Christian, sent a letter addressed to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D). The letter, published by Slate on Wednesday, stated it’s “long overdue” for the city to remove the “overt symbols of white racism and white supremacy.”
They distanced themselves from their ancestor, saying General Jackson’s actions are not a reflection of who they are, and that the monument causes them shame.
“While we are not ashamed of our great great grandfather, we are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer,” the brothers wrote. “We are ashamed of the monument.”
Richmond’s Mayor Stoney has previously stated the monuments should stay with context added, but also altered his views after the events in Charlottesville. Stoney appreciated the support from the descendants of Confederate leaders.
“Every family has a history that can’t be changed, but we can all have an impact on the future,” Stoney said in a statement. “In order to heal the divisions among us and move forward to a more equal and inclusive America, we need to reject these symbols when they become rallying points for hate, bigotry and violence,” Stoney said.
On Saturday, protesters gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to denounce the decision to remove a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Officials declared a state of emergency just prior to the “Unite The Right” rally to allow them to bring in more resources from outside jurisdictions. The problems stemmed from clashes between the protestors and counter-protesters, who were joined by activist groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter.
The aftermath resulted in three deaths, nearly two-dozen injuries, and hundreds of physical assault incidents.
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