Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted May 29, 2017

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Monuments are part of history



I don't think it necessary to go into the details of slavery as having existed since shortly after man started walking the face of this earth. Good, bad or indifferent, it existed in every civilization, and continues to the present day in some parts of the world. Would I justify an institution that holds another human being in bondage in order to prosper through his unpaid labors? Absolutely not. However, neither would I condemn those who took advantage of the legal institution for personal gain.

The American Civil War was fought over several issues; not just slavery, though that was a major issue. Following the war, memorials were erected to those felt to have displayed exemplary conduct and bravery in battle. These men were from both the north and the south. Losing a war does not automatically mean the causes, for which they fought, were wrong. Lack of man power and weaponry caused the south to lose. In losing, however, they forfeited their rights to a lifestyle the opposition considered immoral. The punishments imposed by the victors were for the attempted secession by the south. Not for having owned slaves.

Today, one hundred and fifty years following the abolishment of slavery, descendants find the memorials depicting southern soldiers to be offensive and a constant reminder that their ancestors were once held in bondage. The hue and cry is to remove all trace of the southern Confederacy, negating the worth of the thousands of young men and boys who died fighting for personal beliefs having nothing to do with slavery. Slave owners comprised merely one third of the southern population, and no crime was committed in owning or using slaves. The resulting freedom of all slaves should have been sufficient for the future descendants.

Should all memory of an event that took place in the earlier history of this country be erased, or hidden, to appease a few?

ONLY IF: memorials to ANY past American slave holders are equally eliminated. Thousands of blacks were held as slaves in the north even while the Civil War waged. The result would be that there would be NO memorials depicting any American who lived prior to 1860. Erase all mention of these men from every history book. Change the names of all the buildings, streets, organizations, towns and cities that are named in memory of these once famous individuals. How dare history give them any recognition.

ONLY IF: reparations are made to the descendants of all the other ethnicities that suffered and were mistreated by early Americans. The Irish, Chinese, Polish, and Italians are just a few. Their skin wasn't black, but they were also considered unfit to live in a cultured society.

ONLY IF: all memorials to the industrial giants, agricultural giants, natural resource giants are deleted and erased from the history books. If blacks think their ancestors were the only ones treated poorly, or abusively, they never studied the accounts of the millions of children who suffered at the hands of men who abused them and beat them, yes, with whips, to exact every ounce of labor that could be extracted from these homeless or unwanted little waifs. Those fortunate enough to receive a wage, (perhaps a quarter for a twelve hour shift in the depths of a coal mine), may have been able to purchase a loaf of stale bread, their only sustenance for a full day or more. No one provided these children with meals, clothing, or a bed to collapse on when their day ended. Children died. No one cared. Bought and sold like cattle, some were as young as four years of age.

Orphan trains carried thousands of these children west, handed them out to farmers and used to work the crops. Some were treated humanely. Most were not.
Where were the abolitionist cries against this equal, or more so, abomination against humanity? The blacks were freed one hundred fifty years ago. Children suffered this cruelty for an additional one hundred years before child labor laws were finally enacted on their behalf.

Remove Confederate memorials? NO. They are a part of our history, and removing them won't change that history. Like the early immigrants, and the orphaned children, black ancestors lived in the past. It's time to leave them there, and concentrate on creating a better future for all Americans.

The confederacy monuments contest entry

A short list of blacks who rose to fame in spite of existing reminders of the past
Lorraine Hansberry
Dorothy Height
Matthew Henson
Charles Hamilton Houston
Langston Hughes
Zora Neale Hurston
Mae Jemison
Jack Johnson
James Weldon Johnson
Percy Julian
Ernest Just
Maulana Karenga
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Edmonia Lewis
Alain Locke
Joe Louis
Thurgood Marshall
Benjamin E. Mays
Elijah McCoy
Claude McKay
Oscar Micheaux
Dorie Miller
Garrett Morgan
Toni Morrison
Elijah Muhammad
Jesse Owens
Rosa Parks
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
Colin Powell
A. Philip Randolph
Hiram Revels
Paul Robeson
Jackie Robinson
John Russwurm
Arturo Schomburg
Shaquille George Shaw
Benjamin "Pop" Singleton
Mary Church Terrell
William Monroe Trotter
Sojourner Truth
Harriet Tubman
Kwame Ture
Henry McNeal Turner
Nat Turner
David Walker
Madame C. J. Walker
Booker T. Washington
Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Phillis Wheatley
Roy Wilkins
Daniel Hale Williams
August Wilson
Oprah Winfrey
Tiger Woods
Carter G. Woodson
Richard Wright
Malcolm X
Claudette Colvin

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