Taking ‘Em Down…for Good

The brutal murder of George Floyd triggered not only a massive outcry for an end to police brutality, but also a worldwide call to address systemic racism and the countless injustices it spawns. It also re-animated the campaign in the U.S. to remove from public spaces the monuments to military and political leaders of the Confederacy, monuments that racial justice advocates view as shrines to racism, bigotry, and White supremacy. The “Take ‘Em Down” movement extends to calls to remove Confederate flags from public spaces and, most recently, to rename military bases named for Confederate military leaders. The process of removing monuments and symbols of the Confederacy began several years ago, fueling controversy over their meaning and importance and triggering backlash from those who claim their “heritage” is being erased. July 4th weekend 2020, when our nation stands at a crossroads in its history, seems a good time to examine the historical context in which Confederate monuments were constructed and the case for removing them for good—once and for all, for the good of all.