Politics

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Some Americans have begun calling for the removal of many historical statues and monuments

PHOTO CREDITS: JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

As protests centered around the Black Lives Matter movement continue across the country, some Americans have begun calling for the removal of statues and monuments featuring members of the former Confederate States of America, as well as other prominent American figures. While Representatives Barbara Lee and Bennie Thompson have introduced legislation prompting for the removal of 11 statues in the Capitol complex after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi voiced her support for the removal, protestors in many cities around the nation have taken the action into their own hands, toppling statues of Robert E. Lee, former Confederate general, and Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederacy. In London, statues of other important historical figures such as Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln were vandalized. There have also been calls for the removal of monuments to Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Christopher Columbus. ~

Discussions about Confederate statues have been occurring for many years. The first major calls for change appeared in the wake of the Charleston Church Shooting in 2015, which were then reignited in 2017 after the Unite the Right Rally in Charleston, Virginia – and the movement is gaining support once again after the death of George Floyd. Those who want the statues removed argue that the construction of these statues, most of which were erected in the 19th century, was used as support for white supremacy and intimidation of African Americans. Those who argue in favor of leaving the statues as they are say that these monuments are not vessels for intimidation, but are rather for preserving the history and heritage of the United States. Some of these individuals also believe that these statues serve as important reminders of America’s past in slavery. Many Southern state governments have passed legislation that impede or prohibit the process of removing memorials and statues, like the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act, which was passed in 2016. This legislation requires a ⅔ majority in the Tennessee Historical Commission to make any changes to any public monuments or statues. ~

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