by Jonathan Krall
Like many other Civil War monuments, the Appomattox statue was erected during the Jim Crow era for the purpose of intimidating African Americans into submitting. In the era of the New Jim Crow, it continues to serve its purpose. It reminds the Black community that they are not yet equal. If African Americans had greater standing in our society, those statues, along with the confederate flags, would be long gone. These Civil War statues aren’t history. They are active players in our modern political arena.
The active presence of white supremacy is all around us. It marched in Charlottesville. It lives in Old Town, in the person of Richard Spencer. When the nazis in Charlottesville, chanted “You will not replace us; Jews will not replace us,” they were literally saying that only “white” people should hold prominent places in our society. Is it any coincidence that Trump’s shutdown of the DACA program will remove college-educated immigrants from jobs coveted by white supremacists? Instead of accepting white supremacy, we must ensure that these hateful monuments no longer hold prominent places in our society. To be silent is to be complicit.
White America would never accept a monument to Hitler, Tojo, Mussolini, or any other person who sought to defeat and destroy the USA. Why should black Americans accept monuments to those who sought to destroy the people and the culture of their communities? Why should any American accept this?
We at Grassroots Alexandria applaud City Council for voting to remove the statue to a less prominent location. We recognize the difficulty in getting permission from Richmond to remove the statue. Nevertheless, we call upon City Council to at least cover that hateful monument. We recognize that doing so may spark a lawsuit, thereby drawing the United Daughters of the Confederacy into a much-needed public conversation. If necessary, we encourage City Council to deploy taxpayer dollars in defense of justice for all of us. We demand justice for all of us, not just white people.