Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tearing Down To Move Forward

Change is good and New Orleans is taking steps toward a more positive future by tearing down four prominent Confederate statues honoring white supremacists. The first statue, an obelisk honoring members of the Crescent City White League who killed the members of the city's post-Civil War integrated police force, was removed yesterday, April 24th, 2017.

In the next few days, statues commemorating Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard as well as Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy will possibly be moved to a museum although their final destination has yet to be determined.

A few months back I wrote a post about my visit to Beauvoir, the former home of Jefferson Davis which is now a National Historic Landmark and museum. Davis's wife left the homestead to the Sons of the Confederacy so it's not government-owned property. However, when the original home was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, they were granted federal funding from FEMA and given donations to rebuild while thousands in Mississippi were left homeless. If you read my post, I think you'll be able to surmise that I would have preferred they let it crumble to the ground and maybe even replace that memorial to our country's hateful past with something that can instill hope and positivity in people. 

There are still an estimated 700 Confederate statues or monuments installed in public places throughout the United States. How about we follow New Orleans's lead and tear them down. Why not support local artists by commissioning new street art and replace them with statues of historical figures who brought about positive change in this country like Susan B. Anthony and Rosa Parks? 

A great example of a city that is supporting art with positive messages is New York. The "Fearless Girl" statue was installed facing the famous Wall Street Bull statue on March 7, 2017-the day before International Women's Day. The statue which was created by Kristen Visbal was only meant to be a temporary installation but there was such an outpouring of positive support for the "Fearless Girl" that its permit was extended from one month to a full year. 

We can't erase the past and people will certainly not forget but we can determine how we act in the present and moving into the future. I personally would prefer that the future be filled with art that makes me feel happy.

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