Next in our student series, Logan Woods writes an opinion piece on Confederate Monuments, renaming “our” bridge, and how we need to memorialize history.
Op-Ed: Monumental History
Is it necessary to glorify our history in order to preserve it? In the modern political climate it is easy to find examples of history being ignored or erased. Recently, the news has been fueling a movement to remove Civil War era monuments. More specifically, it is Confederate monuments that are being or removed. Today we find historical sites and monuments being challenged. In the past if you didn’t like a monument you didn’t visit it. Currently, the trend is to have it destroyed.
If the primus for the argument is controversial monuments should not be funded by tax dollars, and we can accept that the government should not fund anything controversial, then yes, funding should be withdrawn. The funding is not truly the issue, however, because rather than allowing the states to sell off or privatize the sites, the goal is to erase them from history.
Politicians have also attempted to capitalize on the trend. To gain favor with potential voters, Georgia Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is currently calling for the removal of the reliefs of Stone Mountain. The logic that the reliefs should be removed because they represent men that supported slavery can then be applied to Mt. Rushmore, any monument to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin or any other Founding Father. Their faces should then be removed from money, public spaces and any government buildings.
Not to be hypocritical, we must remember that the city of Savannah was pro-slavery and benefited from the practice. Following the logic of removing pro-slavery sites we are then obligated to tear down the Cotton Exchange and most of River Street, Wormsloe and Lebanon Plantation, Ft. Pulaski, the Davenport House, and most of the larger houses on Victory Dr. We can then dig up all of the town squares and cemeteries and pull up all of the railroad tracks that brought plantation goods from all over the state.
The bridge named after the racist Democratic governor Eugene Talmadge needs to be renamed, but the proposed name “The Savannah Bridge” is not appropriate. The name Savannah came from a name for the Shawnee, who invaded the area in the 1680’s, killing off the local tribes. Unlike Governor Talmadge, they did own slaves, thus making our city named after people that were pro slavery. Keeping with this logic still, we can rename our city and any of its streets and neighborhoods that have local Native Americans names. Since the Yamacraw were Creek, and Creek owned slaves, we need to rename Yamacraw Village too.
Any further funding to any archeological sites in Chatham County should be stopped and no government money should be allocated to any historical sites that were established prior to 1955. Any politician that supports preserving such sites should be labeled as pro-slavery. Finally, any books, movies or artifacts that mention anyone that benefited from slavery should be gathered in a pile and burned. Then we can pretend that there is nothing ugly in our past.
Unfortunately, when our children ask what the “Civil Rights Struggle” struggled against, who’s going to know? Who will know how far we’ve come? Or maybe we remember our past, but for what it is, in the context of what we’ve overcome as a nation.