Aug 30, 2017
Violence that erupted at a Charlottesville, Virginia rally is re-igniting debate about removing Confederate monuments and memorials, but at least one Alabama town is dedicating a new memorial to preserve its southern heritage.
About 500 folks came out to the Crenshaw County’s Confederate Veterans Memorial Park on Sunday, where Daughters of the Confederacy, Sons of Confederate Veterans and civil war buffs unveiled a small memorial to the blast of cannons on Sunday, WVTM reports.
— Connor Sheets (@ConnorASheets) August 27, 2017
The monument, which was surrounded by a small black fence, is dedicated to “Unknown Alabama Confederate Soldiers” and bears the inscription “Mother, I have been found, I am home.” The monument is flanked by two statues of soldiers standing guard.
The dedication ceremony came 15 days after a violent clash between white nationalists and anti-fascist protestors at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville that left three dead and dozens injured. One of the allegedly racist white nationalists plowed a vehicle into a crowd at the event that killed Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old counter protestor.
The event led to cities like Baltimore removing Confederate statues overnight, and social justice agitators taking matters into their own hands to topple statues elsewhere.
Across the country, cities, school districts and other institutions are heeding calls to remove Confederate memorials and rename buildings bearing the names of Confederate officials.
David Coggins, organizer and developer for the Alabama Confederate memorial, told Montgomery’s WSFA there is no significance to the timing of the dedication.
— Connor Sheets (@ConnorASheets) August 27, 2017
“This was planned several months ago. Matter of fact, the monument was ordered last year and it’s taken this long to get it in the ground and ready to unveil,” Coggins said.
Coggins said he was concerned with unveiling the memorial during the heated national debate, but insisted his motivations are centered entirely on preserving the memory of the Confederate soldier, regardless of their race.
“We had some concerns. There are people who are opposed to what we do,” Coggins said, adding that the group’s “intentions are good.”
“There’s nothing racist about us,” he said. “We’re not white supremacists, matter of fact, we have members in our organization who are black. We have Hispanic members, we have Native American members, we have members from all over and all nationalities and they shouldn’t be concerned about any sign of offense here from us, because we honor all of those veterans.
“We’re color-blind as far as that goes,” he said. “We make no distinction.”
The NAACP, however, does make distinctions.
If a person displays a Confederate flag, they’re racist. Period, according to Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama NAACP.
“We think the monuments should all be removed as well as the flags because they’re a symbol of hatred and bigotry,” Simelton said. “If he supports, and if he rallies around the Confederate flag and monuments then you know he’s a racist.”
The NAACP’s iron clad link between Confederate flags and racists is especially interesting amid a huge surge in sales of Confederate flags following the Charlottesville fiasco.
Belinda Kennedy, longtime owner of Alabama Flag & Banner, is about the only person still producing Confederate flags after large retailers like Amazon and Walmart stopped selling the flag following a racially motivated church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, AL.comreports.
Kennedy told the news site she witnessed a surge in sales following the church shooting, and again after the violence in Charlottesville.
“After the church shooting, Amazon and Walmart stopped selling (the flag) and people were afraid they wouldn’t be able to buy it,” Kennedy said. “And then you started seeing streets renamed, schools being renamed, mountains being renamed. And then people started getting angry.
“And then there’s another surge.”
Before Charleston, Alabama Flag & Banner sold a handful of special order flags every year, but the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag has since pushed sales to around 600-800 flags per year since, she said.
Kennedy said she received more than 100 orders the day after the Charlottesville rally.
“Everybody’s got a different reason (for buying),” she told AL.com. “By and large, I think people are afraid they may not be able to get it one day.”
Kennedy, a great-great granddaughter of Confederate soldiers who employs several Hispanic seamstresses, thinks the Confederate flag has been hijacked by racists. She also believes the drive to sanitize history by removing references to the Confederacy is only further dividing the nation.
“I think there is a bigger racial divide in our country than what we’ve had in many years,” she said. “I think a lot of it is (because) we’re trying to sanitize history. You’ve got white supremacists., but then you’ve got people like me who are history buffs, pushing back and saying, don’t change history.”
“When we start trying to rewrite our history, we are forgetting our history,” she said. “Does anybody really think by taking down monuments and renaming mountains and taking down Confederate flags, that we are really going to see racism end? That’s not going to fix it.
“That comes from inside of people.”
This article was posted: Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 5:54 am