I had to give a speech for school last week and since I’m running out of blogging ideas I’m going to post it here. Enjoy.
Also there are definitely mistakes bc I didn’t have to turn in a paper copy of anything so.
I would’ve said much more but I only had five minutes whakkbfsjk
“When I first moved here… I thought these statues were ridiculous. Why build a street for losers?” This quote is from Tommley Finley, a 70 year old Black America. Racist monuments should be removed because of their history, their reinforcement of white supremacy, and to restore American integrity.
Stone Mountain, the most iconic monument in Georgian history, is steeped in darkness. Helen Plane, member of a group honoring Confederate leaders, proposed the idea for the carving. A Birth of a Nation, a movie glorifying the Confederacy, inspired a group of men to reignite the KKK. They had a grand old time terrorizing people of color before World War 2 interrupted them. After the war, they climbed Stone Mountain and burned a 300ft cross to, quote, “let them know the war is over and the Klan is back!” (paraphrased) This mountain, widely associated with hate, made it into Dr King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech, where he said, “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!” In 2017, a petition came up for a monument honoring Dr King. Upon hearing this plan, a group of neo-Confederates —a group of people clinging to Confederate ideals— marched up the mountain, laden with guns and Confederate flags. “forget Civil Rights, this is a Civil War mountain!” (paraphrased) Governor Nathan Deal dropped the idea entirely, giving in to the protests. Stone Mountain, and all monuments celebrating the mistreatment of people of color, should be removed.
Monuments linked to racist figures stand for values of hate, discrimination, and perceived superiority. Such monuments enforce the “rightness” of the Confederate cause. The Confederacy and the KKK were born of hatred, and so were their shrines. Civil War monuments do not celebrate the freedom of slaves, but for those who fought against it. Some speculate that the removal of monuments would lead to the erasure of history, but they do not realize that the mere existence of these statues suffocate centuries. They bring white history to the top, squashing all minority history beneath them. Would removing them “rewrite history”? I believe not. What I do believe qualifies as “rewriting history” is forgetting this nation was stolen from Native Americans. That slaves powered its economy. That police hate crimes are swept under the rug. That the KKK still moves today. “Monuments don’t teach history… instead, monuments are about values.” “Memorials should exist for evil’s victims, not for evil’s perpetrators.” Removing these monuments wouldn’t make those problems go away— but it would show that America has begun to acknowledge its flaws.
Why does it matter? Integrity. “Government should remove racist statues and monuments to prove they reject past ideologies.” Instead of reforming and admitting their sins, America still clings to its “idol”: pride. “A country cannot begin to cleanse itself of evil while maintaining shrines to those who committed it.” How could a repentant nation continue to worship the idols of their past? “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work.” Taking down racist monuments would be a step in ridding its heart of evil.
Some argue, “Where does it end?? You’ll have to get rid of everything!” If they promote the dehumanization of people of color, then yes. Get rid of them. If you think art is more important than the dignity of human beings, then you’re wrong. There’s no question. Basic human respect is more important than objects.
“And what about the founding fathers?! They owned slaves!!” I found this quote from a Harvard article that explains it well. “No one puts a monument up to Washington or Jefferson to promote slavery. The monuments go up because, without Washington, there likely would not have been an American nation.” The difference is the motive. A letter from Helen Plane proves her motives behind the Stone Mountain carving. She said, “I feel it is due to the Klan, which saved us from Black dominations and carpetbag rule, that it be immortalized on Stone Mountain. Why not represent a small group of them approaching in the distance.” (paraphrased) As I said, removing controversial monuments would not rewrite history— it would prove a nation’s integrity.
What can the government do? Plan (and follow through with) the removal of harmful monuments and statues. Rename cities and streets. Work towards equality in everyday life. It’s not enough to only remove monuments— it’s just a step in dismantling white supremacy. What can young people do? Listen to and respect POC’s opinions. Educate themselves. Research how to vote towards monument removal
Racist monuments should be removed because of their plethora of hateful history, their role in white supremacy, and to reinstall American integrity.
“Americans look for heroes, sometimes more than the truth. And as these statues show, we’re very good at mythmaking.”
Thank you for your time.
ALSO THIS VIDEO CAME OUT TODAY I HAD TO ADD IT HERE: