Baltimore’s Confederate Monument Was Never About ‘History And Culture’

tags: Confederate Monuments

Jane Dailey is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Chicago. She writes extensively about the American South. Her books include Before Jim Crow, The Politics of Race, In Post-Emancipation Virginia, and Building the Republic: A Narrative History of the United States from 1877 to the Present, which will be published later this year.

Americans have probably had about enough of Confederate monuments this week, but the dual equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson whisked away from its pedestal Wednesday morning in Baltimore is worth examining, especially in light of President Trump’s continued fixation on the issue.

The vast majority of Confederate monuments were erected after the turn of the twentieth century. In addition to proclaiming the heroism of Confederates and their cause, these bronze and marble statuary announced white victory in a 40-year struggle to define and control the postwar Southern economy and to deny African American political influence. Key to this process was the disenfranchisement of nearly all African Americans and a significant number of white southerners, too.

The timing of Baltimore’s Jackson-Lee statue is very odd. Why should a city in a state that sat out the Civil War erect a Confederate monument in 1948? Who erects a statue of former Confederate generals on the very heels of fighting and winning a war for democracy? People who want to send a message to black veterans, the Supreme Court, and the president of the United States, that’s who.

In the immediate post-World War II moment, American values, particularly the rule of law, were under assault ― by Americans. During the summer of 1946, southern whites blinded, castrated, and killed 56 African Americans. White civilians were assisted ably by local law enforcement agencies, which engaged in an orgy of official violence that was extreme even by Jim Crow standards. Many of the victims were veterans. When ex-Marine Timothy Hood removed the Jim Crow sign from a streetcar in Brighton, Alabama, he was shot five times by the conductor, arrested, jailed, and executed by the chief of police with a single shot to the head. As many as five former black GIs were killed at the hands of the Birmingham police in the first six weeks of 1946. ...

Read entire article at Huffington Post

comments powered by Disqus