Historical Significance of Charlottesville’s Monument
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
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Since I was not alive during American Civil War nor a resident of Charlottesville, I need to better understand the significance of the Southern monuments in order to better understand the cause of Charlottesville violent incident. After some research regarding the monuments of the South and what they symbolize, I’d like to share a discussion of historian and Professor of Columbia Eric Foner, explaining the Reconstruction, Racism, and Monuments, in the video of 2016, below:
Professor Eric Foner explains the hostility toward what/who is different that had surfaced throughout American history. I have learned from Professor Foner:
- What is possible would not have been achieved if some people did not ask for the impossible. It is those who demanded for the impossible that changed the discourse and put the issue on national agenda (ex. abolitionists).
- Parallel between Abolitionists and Black Life Matters movements: demanding recognition of the equal humanity of slave or African American people.
- Confederate flag was taken down from South Carolina state building. Flags or monuments are not just representing history but expression of power; who has the power to shape the public representation of history.
- Reconstruction period was a remarkable moment in our history. It was a moment in history of democracy, representing a shift and clash of powers in this country. Separation of political and economic power occurred during reconstruction period.
- How about putting up more monuments rather than tearing down monuments?
- True democracy depends on economic equality and security. A person who is economically dependent is not truly free.
- Modern racism or problem is being implemented in the form of economic inequality.
- Karl Marx once commented: socialism began in America. Prior to American Civil War during 19th century, there were over 100 cooperative communities in America, striving toward the ideal of utopia, changing society through examples of cooperation (Shakers, Mormons, etc.) and abolishing private property and changing marital relationships. Most of these communities were short-lived. Those that were lasting were mainly of religious based.
The Thirteenth Amendment , passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864 and by the House on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865, abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted following the American Civil War. The 2 Sections of Thirteenth Amendment, in italics, below:
- Section 1: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
- Section 2: Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The Fourteenth Amendment, adopted on July 9, 1868, addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws. This was also one of the three Reconstruction Amendments following the American Civil War. The 5 sections of the Fourteenth Amendment are presented below, in italics:
- Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
- Section 2: Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
- Section 3: No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
- Section 4: The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
- Section 5: The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
The Fifteenth Amendment , ratified on February 3, 1870, prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”. It was the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendment. Its 2 sections are in italics, below:
- Section 1: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
- Section 2: The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The 200,000 Black men who have served in the Union Army and Navy during American Civil War have played a part in being the catalyst of the idea of America as a nation where democracy and citizenship being severed from the race, a nation with true inter-racial democracy of equals. Fighting and dying for the nation gave them the claim to American citizenship to the post-civil war world.
But after the conclusion of American Civil War, even though the political power was given to persons of African ancestry, the economic power (“forty-acres and a mule) was not promised to persons of African ancestry. Subsequently such economic power may be denied in various forms throughout our modern history.
So we are once again, facing a time of a modern Reconstruction period, needing to redefine what American nation represents. It is time for America to be a nation of multi-racial democracy of equals, politically as well as economically. Perhaps what triggered the incident in Chralottesville, VA, signifies a shift (therefore clash) of powers in modern American history. This change frustrates the white supremacists or white nationalists, finding the trend unsettling.
We have learned from our nation’s history that inequality is the least efficient and most damaging route. The best strategy for all is to demand equality for all, politically as well as economically. Furthermore, stronger or further enforcement of the laws and constitutional amendments in existence would have provided stronger staying power for Reconstruction movement and actual democracy would have deeper roots throughout America with such enforcements. To insure future peace, equality and fairness for all groups (non-whites as well as whites) will be utmost important, so non-whites would not be leading to anger and KKK and neo-Nazis will not be able to further recruit.
As for monuments and statues, I believe in building more rather than destroying more. It is time to look into history and uncover historical Americans of African, Asian, and Hispanic ancestry who have contributed to the American nation in order to build and raise their statues.
The world is watching us. For United States have always represented a nation of ideals that strive for equality for all and have given all other nations on earth a sense of direction and hope. This is a land of social experiments and struggle for betterment of humankind.
Finally, I’d like to remind us all that our future will be abundant and there will be plenty of opportunities for all racial groups. What is more: we will have greater challenge in dealing with robots and artificial intelligence in the future. It is utmost important that we human being of all groups to be able to collaborate effectively and be able to choose our battles wisely.
Finally, finally, once America has reached a successful result of our social experimentation of democracy, I’d highly recommend us move toward the idea of global citizenship….not just for convenience of travel but a notch closer to the ideal of utopia….a planet where earthlings have minimum suffering and optimal actualization every where for every one.
~Let’s Help One Another~
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