By Noa Pope
(9/27/17) One-hundred eighteen years ago a statue named Chip was erected in the middle of Downtown Franklin’s square. Chip is a Confederate statue that was built using the money the United Daughters of the Confederacy raised to build a statue honoring the Confederate Soldiers who died in battle. For 118 years the statue has been relatively ignored and has caused no dramatic controversy. On August 12, 2017, however, the attitude towards the statue changed drastically. In Charlottesville, Virginia a ““Unite the Right” rally [happened as a protest] against the removal of a statue of Confederate icon General E. Lee.” This white supremacist group, led by Jason Kessler, killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured 19 other anti-racist protestesters protesting against the white-supremacist group (“Charlottesville Attack”).
This tragic event has caused heated debate all over the country, including our hometown, Franklin, TN, about whether or not Confederate statues should be removed. These recent events have divided the citizens of Franklin about what to do with the Confederate statue that stands in Downtown Franklin. Should it be destroyed? Should it be moved to a museum? Or should Chip stay where he is?
Through a series of tweets made on August 17, 2017, President Donald Trump said, it is “[s]ad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can’t change history, but you can learn from it.” While it is true that history cannot be changed and needs to be learned from, having statues erected in the middle of town is not the way to teach people; instead, it makes a statement that racism, hatred, bigotry, and everything the Confederacy stood for is what our town, our county, is made of today.
The claim that “it is part of our history and history will be forgotten if we rid towns of reminders of it” is a mask white-supremacists put on to hide their racism. History will not be forgotten if these statues are removed; in fact, removing the statues is the real way to show our country HAS learned and HAS grown from history. Having a statue that represent racism in the center of town surrounded by the court house where lynchings and corporal punishment happened many years ago shows that we, America, are still built on these immoral beliefs (“Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau”). If history preservation is the true reason for these statues, then why do we not see statues of heroic slaves, such as Nat Turner? Why do we not see Martin Luther King Jr.? Why do we not see the side of the oppressed, the side who ultimately won the war? The Confederate statues littering the U.S is a sign that although the Confederacy lost the war in 1865, they are winning today.
Question: What do you think about the removal of the statues? Do you think they are an appropriate representation of U.S history?