The Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Richmond, Va.

The Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Richmond, Va.

It’s “your turn” to set the agenda and share your views about conversations taking place in our region. The city of Baltimore removed its Confederate memorials in the night, and Annapolis is also considering removing some of its landmarks as well. Now, Richmond could be at the center of the next debate in Virginia. We also want to hear from you. How do you address controversial symbols in your community? We’ll also discuss a recent incident at a D.C. public pool, where a man with a swastika tattoo was asked to leave.

Join Kojo to discuss this region’s biggest stories, and call 800-433-8850 from 12-1 p.m. EST to share whatever’s on your mind.

Guests

  • Christy Coleman Co-chair, Monument Avenue Commission, CEO of The American Civil War Museum

Listeners Share Their Thoughts on Charlottesville and Confederate Monuments

Protests turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend — the latest local example of clashes over race and what to do with Confederate monuments and memorials. On Thursday, The Kojo Nnamdi Show opened up the phones to its listeners. Kojo spoke with Christy Coleman first — She’s CEO of The American Civil War Museum, and co-chair of the Monument Avenue Commission in Richmond. The commission is charged with figuring out how to modernize and add context, to Richmond’s memorials to Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, among others. But the events in Charlottesville are changing the conversation in Richmond.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who appointed the commission this Summer, changed course from his earlier statements, saying he would now consider removing the statues. He had previously advocated for leaving them in place and adding context. Coleman  told The Kojo Nnamdi Show these new directive don’t necessarily change the group’s job. “It opens up the conversation,” said Coleman. “Before, we were saying that the Mayor’s mandate says that we cannot take it down. A lot of people said, ‘well, why aren’t all the options on the table so that we can have a full conversation across the board?’ I think he heard that.” There was passionate discussion about what should be done with these monuments not only in the Washington region, but also across the country.

A caller named Steve offered a very nuanced opinion about the removal of Confederate statues. “I think all the confederate memorials, their statues, should really go down, however I do understand the frustration of white heterosexual males,” Steve said. “Many of them use (the) Confederacy as a symbol to rally around. The violent part, the racist part, I don’t agree with that.” He did say however, that he knows some of them are not racist, but they join these organizations to have a voice and feel some type of pride. As a Muslim man, Steve said, “our voices aren’t heard that much…I don’t have a voice in my own community to express the things going on with Islam in this country and abroad.”

Steve got at one of the questions embedded in the debate about Confederate monuments. Do they celebrate heritage or the horrors of racism and slavery?

President Donald Trump made an argument this week that removing Confederate statues would lead to a slippery slope where statues of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson could be removed. Trump also expressed disappointment about statues being taken down.

“Putting up statues honoring confederate soldiers demonstrated the capabilities and honor of the brave soldiers who were fighting for freedom, for defense of their homeland, and for state’s rights, said a listener named Paul, in an email. “No, slavery had to go away after the Civil War, but it was important to give the Southern soldiers honor where it could be found.”

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