The debate over America’s symbols and monuments has sharpened with the growing mass movement for racial justice in the past decade. The lionization of slave-owners and genocidaires has been pointed out by many as in contradiction to the ideals of democracy and racial justice so often touted as national core values. In the midst of this debate, the decision by the US Treasury to place Harriet Tubman alongside Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill starting in 2030 has incited controversy. Howard University professor of political science Clarence Lusane joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss the Harriet Tubman dollar bill, and the stakes of the debate over national symbols in righting the historical wrongs of slavery and white supremacy.
New Mexico - When I was a child, my dad and I would sometimes walk down to Santa Fe Plaza, especially on cool autumn afternoons. We would get Cokes from Woolworth’s. My father would visit with friends and family, selling under the portal of the Palace of the Governor’s, and we would sit in the center of the Plaza, on the stone banco around the obelisk. My dad would point out the word savage which was etched into the marble plaque, and he would laugh. “Those are your ancestors,” he would say, with no little bit of irony.
A new report released July 1, 2019, concludes that a major monument in Charlottesville, Virginia, can be legally removed. The monument, which depicts George Rogers Clark threatening Native American men and a woman holding an infant, is not covered by a Virginia state law that forbids removing war monuments, due to the date of the monument’s erection and its ownership by the University of Virginia rather than the County of Albemarle. George Rogers Clark said that he would have liked to “see the whole race of Indians extirpated” and that he would...
Rochester, N.Y. (13WHAM) - There was outcry in the community after a Frederick Douglass statue at the corner of Tracey and Alexander Streets was vandalized in December. But those behind the project still called for the incident to be a teaching moment, saying it's what Douglass would've wanted. Charles Milks and John Boedicker are charged with criminal mischief in the crime. At the time, they were students at St. John Fisher College. The college said Thursday they are no longer enrolled. The statue was part of a series commemorating the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglass, a project run by the Re-energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass Committee.
Antifascists, antiracists, anarchists, and abolitionists across the mountains of Appalachia and the South have conducted attacks against symbols of White Supremacy, Colonialism, and the Plantation State. In solidarity with antiracists and antifascists mobilizing against the Georgia based white supremacist rally, “Rock Stone Mountain II”, individuals carried out a series of attacks against the very monuments that racists, patriots, and capitalists are all too eager to continue rallying around.
Longtime advocates for Shockoe Bottom have sent an Open Letter to Richmond, Va., Mayor Levar Stoney asking him to finally take a stand on whether he supports the community-generated proposal for a nine-acre memorial park. The letter refers to “an endless series of discussions, meetings, reports and presentations” concerning the future of Shockoe Bottom, once the epicenter of the U.S. domestic slave trade. “And while all these endless discussions continue, real estate and development deals are being made in the Bottom that would threaten the viability of the memorial park.”
Interior Department emails that came to light on Friday confirm that protecting companies' ability to mine oil, gas, and coal was a primary concern as the agency moved to shrink two national monuments in Utah last year. "We've long known that Trump and Zinke put polluter profits ahead of our clean air, clean water, public health, and coastal economies. This is more proof," Alex Taurel of the League of Conservation Voters said in a statement. "On Zinke's one year anniversary as secretary, the evidence of just how embedded Trump and Zinke are with the dirty energy of the past could not be clearer." Thousands of pages of correspondence and documents, uncovered by a lawsuit filed by the New York Times against the department after it failed to comply with an open records request for the materials, show that Interior staffers compiled estimates of how many coal reserves were located in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument as the agency was reconsidering the protected land's boundaries.
District Attorney Roger Echols announced Tuesday afternoon that he is dropping the charges against the five remaining people accused of destroying a Confederate statue in downtown Durham last summer. The announcement follows a long day in District Court Monday in which a judge acquitted one defendant, Raul Mauro Jimenez, and dismissed the charges against two others, Peter Gilbert and Dante Strobino, after an assistant district attorney presented all her evidence. The judge said the prosecution failed to prove the defendants were guilty of three misdemeanors: injury to real property, defacing a public building or monument and conspiracy to deface a public building or monument. Prosecutors presented all of the admissible evidence available, Echols said. Since his office planned to present the same evidence against the remaining defendants, it no longer made sense to prosecute the case...
By Staff of The Associated Press - State Rep. Patrice Arent, a Democrat from Millcreek, accused Trump of coming to “wreak destruction on a land he knows basically nothing about,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch vowed said the president should see these monuments for himself. “I want him to visit Bears Ears before he takes any action,” Branch said. Roughly 5,000 people showed up to the rally, according to the Utah Highway Patrol. The demonstration remained relatively peaceful. Trump is scheduled to visit the state on Monday, when he will announce a plan to reduce the size of Bears Ears and Staircase-Escalante National Monuments by nearly two-thirds. Those monuments were designated by former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, respectively. Trump’s move would be the first such act by a president in half a century. Environmentalists and tribal leaders have decried the decision as illegal and an affront to Native Americans. Leaked documents obtained by The Associated Press show that Trump plans to shrink Bears Ears National Monument by nearly 85 percent and reduce Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by almost half. The plan would cut the total amount of land in the state’s red rock country protected under monument status from more than 3.2 million acres (5,000 square miles) to about 1.2 million acres (1,875 square miles).
By Ashoka Jegroo for Truthout - One of the most inspiring and audacious direct actions against a racist statue recently was in August in Durham, North Carolina. A group of more than 100 activists from leftist and anti-capitalist groups, such as the Workers World Party and the Industrial Workers of the World physically tore down the Confederate Soldiers Monument in front of the old Durham County Courthouse while chanting "No cops! No KKK! No fascist USA!" Multiple activists were later arrested and charged with felonies for tearing down the statue, the first of whom was 22-year-old student Takiyah Thompson. "I think it's important to think about the position of the Confederate statue in front of the old courthouse," Thompson told Truthout. "Even though that courthouse is no longer in use, it's still a government building, and the fact that it's on the courthouse steps makes a very clear statement to Black people, and people of color more generally, about what kind of justice they're going to receive when they enter that courtroom. People are talking about tearing down history, but it's not history. Not when the legacy is still very much alive." Thompson said that the action started as a response to an uninspiring post-Charlottesville vigil organized by the liberal, pro-Democratic Party group IndivisiblesNC on August 13.
By Colin Campbell and Sean Welsh for The Baltimore Sun - Mayor Catherine Pugh says she has no plans to remove the Francis Scott Key monument in Bolton Hill that was vandalized before dawn Wednesday and has directed art preservation experts to determine the cost of cleaning it. Exactly 203 years after the Maryland attorney wrote the poem that would later become the national anthem, the city awoke to find the words “Racist Anthem” spray-painted on the Eutaw Place monument and red paint splashed on it. The third stanza of Key’s poem includes a reference accusing the British of encouraging American slaves to join the fight against their masters. City officials said they know of no way to prevent future vandalism, short of catching the person or people responsible. Police don’t have any suspects or surveillance footage of the incident. “Ultimately, it’s going to come down to them being caught and charged,” police spokesman T.J. Smith said. Officers make periodic checks on city property during their patrols, but the department does not plan to place the Key monument under constant police protection, Smith said. “We can’t ensure it’s not going to happen again,” Pugh spokesman Anthony McCarthy said. He said, however, the mayor does not plan to take it down and wants to see it restored.
By Jessica Wang for Alternet - Recent events in Charlottesville have renewed the debate around whether to take down Confederate memorials and statues, but the latest short film from the Equal Justice Institute’s Lynching in America project shows that much more is needed to truly confront the bitter legacy of slavery and racial injustice. Abbeville chronicles the unveiling of a historical marker dedicated to the brutal death of Anthony Crawford a century ago. Lynched in the town square of Abbeville, South Carolina, Crawford was a successful African-American farmer who argued with a white merchant for a fair price for cottonseed. For his “crime,” he was publicly stabbed, shot and hanged by a white mob, and his family was subsequently run out of town. Crawford’s murder counts as just one of the 4,084 racial terror lynchings identified by EJI in 12 Southern states between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and 1950, and yet is one of only a handful of deaths recognized today by public markers. In fact, the Abbeville memorial is one of six lynching markers erected by EJI as part of an effort to force Americans to face our history of racial terror and reshape the national narrative about race. The other five can be found in LaGrange, Georgia, and four cities in Alabama.
By Nick Robins-Early for Huffington Post. The United States is once again grappling with what to do about public symbols of the Confederacy as they become rallying points for white supremacists. The debate intensified this month after a woman was killed and dozens were injured in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a white supremacist demonstration against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. City councils and universities have since moved to take down several controversial monuments, while demonstrators have toppled others Although the debate over Confederate statues is uniquely American, the broader question of how a nation should memorialize painful or divisive parts of its past is an issue that numerous countries still struggle to address.
By Madina Toure for Observer. New York, NY - A proposal to remove a statue of the explorer Christopher Columbus on the Upper West Side will receive “immediate attention” by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office in the wake of violence stemming from a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Democrat, and Harlem elected officials held a rally on Monday calling for a statue of J. Marion Sims, a 19th Century doctor who has been called the “father of modern gynecology,” to be removed from Central Park, where it is situated on East 103rd Street in East Harlem. Concerns with that statue stem from the fact that Sims experimented on African slaves without their consent or any anesthesia throughout his career as a doctor.
By Ramona Giwargis for The Mercury News. San Jose, CA - A battle is brewing inside San Jose City Hall to remove a statue some say represents violence and genocide. The San Jose Brown Berets last week launched a petition to remove the Christopher Columbus statue from the City Hall lobby, its home since the East Santa Clara Street building opened in 2005. “That part of history was written in my people’s blood,” said Peter Ortiz, 27, a labor organizer, trustee at Mount Pleasant Elementary School District and co-chair of the Brown Berets. “Christopher Columbus didn’t just come here with nuts and berries for my ancestors. There was rape and genocide.”