The Confederate States of America were the biggest threat the United States had faced. Even bigger than the threat the former British Empire presented at the very birth of this country. This was due in large part to the divisive nature of the conflict, and the dehumanizing nature of forced servitude.
However, as we follow the connecting lines down through time, we see that those who have been stripped of their humanity arent the victims of slavery but its proponents.
Last weekend, the college town of Charlottesville, Virginia was virtually overrun by white supremacists and their sympathizers. It was a fruit salad of racial hate; neo-nazis, skinheads, armed militias and neo-confederates. All of whom chanted anti-Semitic and anti-black slogans as they marched through the streets.
As has been widely reported, there has been a renewed national debate regarding statues to the leaders of a racist insurrection that almost tore the country apart since the terrorist attacks of Charleston, South Carolina committed by Dylan Rooff that resulted in the deaths of nine black parishioners.
There was a great deal of discourse regarding these monuments to treasonous hate that litter the landscapes of municipalities that fall both below and above the Mason-Dixon line.
There is new momentum to remove Confederate monuments after the violence in Charlottesville. Right now, there are 718 monuments and statues across the US. Virginia has the most at 96, followed by North Carolina and Georgia with 90 each. Yesterday, the Lexington, Kentucky city council took steps to remove two statues sitting near the court house.
Today, New Orleans, Baltimore and even Richmond, Virginia are making moves to get rid of these statues. However, there are still a great number of mayors, city council members and governors throughout the south and Midwest who would rather see the statues remain.
The Memphis, Tennessee City Council voted to removed its statues in 2015 as part of that trend, but they were stopped in their tracks due to the statues falling under the jurisdiction of the Tennessee Historical Commission, who denied the request to take them down.
I previously wrote about this in a Shadow League piece titled, “Confederate Monuments Are Nationwide Pox On Democracy.“
The statues are of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, “president” Jefferson Davis, and General P.G.T. Beauregard, the first of which was built 19 years after the Civil War and served as both a memorial for whites and a clear warning to blacks regarding power and racial pecking order.
They aren’t just in the deep south either. Though the false narrative likes to paint the south as the lone Confederate bastion, monuments paying homage to white supremacists exist in Iowa, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, all of which officially fought on the side of the Union, and even in states like Montana, Arizona and Oklahoma, which were merely territories during the war.
But the disrespectful hits are NOT a thing of the past. In North Carolina, for instance, 35 monuments have been added since 2000, according to a University of North Carolina survey.
According to USA Today, there are over 700 monuments to the traitorous confederates throughout the United States and chances are the majority of them aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale has never been one to mince words. He’s been outspoken against racism and bigotry on several occasions. Recently he was interviewed as part of the MLK50:Justice through Journalism program and he came from the heart and soul once again with his commentary and candor.
Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale on Confederate monuments, racism, President Trump and what Dr. Martin Luther King is asking us to do today.
Fifty years later (Martin Luther King Jr.) is speaking to us from the grave and telling us to stand up to this crap that were seeing, thats festering in our country, that our president has seemed to deem OK and label as equal as people who are fighting for love and fighting hate and bigotry and all of those things,” said Fizdale. “Weve got to listen to Dr. King. Theres no way, with me being the head coach in the city of Memphis, that I will sit on the sidelines and disgrace his legacy, my grandfathers legacy, and let somebody destroy something that we built in America that I think can be exemplary.
I cant sit and watch this, not in a city where Dr. King was assassinated 50 years ago, where we have, even today in our city a statue of a known Klansman, right here in the beautiful city of Memphis with all these incredibly wonderful people,” he continued. “Its unacceptable. It will no longer stand. I think youre seeing it all over America people are not standing for it anymore. Its a black eye on our history.
Fizdale has been bolder than most when using his position to speak out against institutional and historic racism. Its especially brave when considering that he actually works in a city and state thats in the heart of the former Confederacy.