What Happens When an Entire Campus Is Rooted in the Confederacy?Breaking News
tags: Peter Dreier, Confederate Monuments
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The start of classes was just a week away when white supremacists clashed with counterprotesters in Charlottesville. The town that is home to the University of Virginia is now synonymous with American carnage. At the heart of the August 12 riot that left one young woman dead sat Robert E. Lee atop his horse. The city had decided to remove the monument, one of many dating to the early 20th-century "vindication era" of memorialization. It hadn't intended to ignite a proxy war over America’s racial sins nor to re-enlist Dixie’s ghosts on the side of white supremacy.
The problem of whether such symbols should stand—and what for—especially on or near college campuses pervades with a terrible urgency. Students must look anew at these memorials to the “Lost Cause” or notice their absence. Professors and administrators call monument removal a pre-emptive strike against the emotional and physical violence.
President Gregory Fenves of the University of Texas flagship in Austin decidedwithin a week of Charlottesville to relocate statues of Lee and four other Confederate generals from the campus’s Main Hall to a historical display. Daina Berry, an associate professor of history at school, praised her president’s “pre-emptive” decision to remove Confederate monuments when we spoke one the eve of students’ first day of classes, “so that we don’t have a Charlottesville on our campus.” Berry, a scholar of African-American history, cautions: “We're an open carry state and a closed conceal carry on campus, so there are guns on our campus,” she added.
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