GEN Z: The debate on Confederate statues

Chloe Berg
Chloe Berg

On June 4, many Black Lives Matter protesters gathered around the famous statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia. The protests at the Confederate capital was focused on the removal of statues on Monument Avenue. Following the protests and death of George Floyd, the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, has promised to remove the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue. In some places, protesters have begun taking down figures themselves. A few days ago, protestors took down a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis a few blocks from the Lee statue on Monument Avenue. In Portsmouth, Virginia, a man suffered life-threatening injuries when part of a Confederate soldier statue fell on him as they tried to topple it.

Statues of Confederate leaders all through the United States are continuing to be vandalized and removed. To date, almost 1,800 Confederate statues remain unmoved in the U.S., which includes more than 700 monuments in parks, colleges and Washington, D.C. Within the last few weeks, Confederate statues have additionally been removed in Kentucky, Alabama, Florida and Tennessee.

The latest Virginia regulation offers localities the potential to take down, relocate or contextualize battle memorials starting July 1. Local governments were prohibited from taking such motion.

Public opinion about the fate of the monuments is also moving, in line with new polling that indicates 44% of residents say statues of Confederate leaders need to remain standing, down from 50% in 2017, and 32% say the icons need to be removed, compared with 26% in 2017.

If the Confederate statues do come down, will there be anything to replace them? People have made petitions on who should replace the Confederate leaders. In Tennessee, a citizen made a petition to memorialize another famous face from that state, Dolly Parton. The petition reads, “Tennessee is littered with statues memorializing Confederate officers. History should not be forgotten, but we need not glamorize those who do not deserve our praise, Instead, let us honor a true Tennessee hero, Dolly Parton. Let’s replace the statues of men who sought to tear this country apart with a monument to the woman who has worked her entire life to bring us closer together.” The petition has almost reached its goal of 10,000 signatures.

My friends and I have talked about this. Most of them have said that it is OK if the government removes the statues as long as they put them somewhere like a museum where people can still learn about our history.

Chloe Berg is a Leavenworth native and student at Benedictine College.