Following the nationwide controversy about Confederate monuments that has been reignited after the Charlottesville attacks, students and faculty discussed whether such monuments should be removed from public spaces.
The discussion forum “American Downfall” debated the subject “What Do Confederate Monuments Symbolize?” in Patterson Hall 214 on Wednesday, Aug. 30, at noon.
Luke Ritter, a lecturer of history, opened the discussion by introducing key points regarding the subject at hand.
“So what do Confederate monuments symbolize and how much does the context matter?” Ritter said. “That’s an important thing to establish here.”
He also stated symbols are tricky because context can alter the meaning of a symbol.
During the forum, various specific monuments were discussed as examples of when monuments are deemed OK, such as a memorial for the fallen versus monuments that some might consider to be glorifying racists.
“What I’ve been hearing from people who have a serious conversation about this is not remove all things Confederate,” Ritter said. “Because context matters and the history of a particular monument matters.”
“For people of African descent, the Confederacy was the idea of you trying to keep us in bondage,” said Kourtney Frye, a junior history major from Monroeville.
Frye further elaborated that even if someone states something was built for a different purpose, it doesn’t change the oppressed person’s perspective of things.
“Just walking around D.C. there’s signs of the Confederacy everywhere,” said Matt Fulton, a senior music industry major from Tampa, Florida. “And it’s insane to me, like we must be the only country that does this.
“I was in India with Dr. Valentine this summer and several times people were like, ‘Well, why do you guys honor your traitors?’”
“It’s embarrassing as an American. This whole argument is embarrassing to me.”
Ritter pointed out that in downtown Troy, there is a Confederate monument honoring fallen Pike County soldiers.
Fifteen of 20 voters in the room were in favor of relocating the current monument from the Troy public square to a nearby battlefield or Confederate cemetery, as it was stated by some that that would be a more appropriate location.
“To me, that’s a great way to put it in its context,” said Kathryn Tucker, lecturer of history. “Then it’s actually memorializing those soldiers.”