Destroying a monument won’t take back slavery, eradicate racism

 “Whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it.” Barack Obama

FILE - A carving depicting Confederate Generals "Stonewall" Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis is shown in this June 23, 2015 file photo. The carving is at the center of a heated controversy involving the NAACP. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

FILE – A carving depicting Confederate Generals “Stonewall” Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis is shown in this June 23, 2015 file photo. The carving is at the center of a heated controversy involving the NAACP. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Last month, in the wake of the horrific murders of nine African Americans at their church in Charleston, S.C., Richard Rose, President of the NAACP’s Atlanta chapter, called for the removal of all Confederate symbols from Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park.

More specifically, Rose wants the famous bas-relief carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on Stone Mountain’s northern face removed, claiming it “commemorate[s] slavery”.

How does a carving in the side of a mountain of three mounted Generals, each with his hand placed over his heart – hat in hand – as if he were reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance”, commemorate slavery

It doesn’t. 

If the carving depicted the three men whipping and lynching African Americans – which most certainly would be “commemorating” slavery, then Rose’s demands would be justified.

Yet again, it doesn’t.

But the words of just one man can be powerful, especially during a time like the present, with racial tensions escalating, and the possibility of a race war on the horizon.

In an article recently published in the “Washington Times” entitled, “Black activists fear ‘race war’ amid Charleston shooting“, black activist J. Denise Cromwell expressed concerns of retaliation from misguided members of her community.

“We don’t need any more bloodshed and we don’t need a race war,” Cromwell pled. “Charleston has a lot of racial tension. … We’re drowning and someone is pouring water over us.”

And Cromwell is not the first to make mention of  a “race war”, either.

According to WSB-TV, Mr. Rose goes on to say, “My tax dollars should not be used to commemorate slavery”.

Before the President of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP makes statements like that, maybe he should have his facts straight.

The maintenance, preservation and upkeep of Stone Mountain Park is the full responsibility of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. In the words of the organization, taken directly from their website, “The Stone Mountain Memorial Association (SMMA), a State of Georgia authority, is charged by Georgia law with self-sufficiently managing the State owned Stone Mountain Park.”

The SMMA, in conjunction with Herschend Family Entertainment and the Marriott Corporation, are 100% fiscally responsible for Stone Mountain Park.

In no way does Stone Mountain Park receive any of your tax money.

There is no disputing that the monument is an homage to the Confederacy, but even some African Americans believe the NAACP’s request goes too far. Moreover, there are African Americans who proudly wave the Confederate flag, too, not seeing it as a symbol to propagate hate, but as one of defiance in the face of tyranny.

FILE- Confederate graves are shown at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York, in this July 9, 2015 file photo. Confederate soldiers should be honored the same as Union soldiers, not by the removal of their flags and destruction of monuments honoring their leaders. (AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth)

FILE- Confederate graves are shown at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York, in this July 9, 2015 file photo. Confederate soldiers should be honored the same as Union soldiers, not by the removal of their flags and destruction of monuments honoring their leaders. (AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth)

On page six of her book, “The Competent Public Speaker”, Dr. Sherwyn P. Morreale writes, “The most important thing to remember about symbols is that people assign meaning to them- their meaning is not absolute and fixed.” Dr. Morreale has her Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees in communications.

Removing the carving would also symbolically erase almost half a century of the park’s history. According to the park’s website, construction of the monument began on June 23, 1923, but due to unforeseeable issues, wasn’t completed until March 3, 1972 – 49 years later.

History is the foundation upon which the present and future are built. It cannot be erased – nor should it.  The Civil War wasn’t just an important part of this country’s history- it was the cornerstone of the Civil Rights Movement

Imagine how many valuable experiences would be lost if that were the case. Imagine the determination, courage and strength that black Civil Rights’ leaders found in themselves and called upon of many, that would be lost in a world without Rosa ParksMalcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the countless others born from that movement.

We, the people, must compel Richard Rose and the NAACP to withdraw their demands against the carving on Stone Mountain, and against Confederate symbols all-together.

Voice your concerns and contact the Stone Mountain Memorial Association today– before we find ourselves at war with our neighbors, our brothers and our friends.

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