The Confederate statue at the University of Mississippi. Photo by L. Danielle Turner.L. Danielle Turner
The Confederacy was an alliance of thirteen slave-holding states which are represented on the confederate flag. During the Civil War, the Confederate states fought to keep African Americans enslaved. Many Southern whites needed African American labor to make money in their fields and farms.
African Americans, taken from their homes and taught they lived a heathen lifestyle, were treated and sold like property. They were forced to change their religion and original names. Women were raped, beaten and forced to take care of children, and African Americans were viewed as animals.
Blacks continued to deal with segregation and Jim Crow laws. When they stood up for themselves, they were beaten and killed. Black leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X put their lives on the line so African Americans could have better lives.
Today, blacks still deal with segregation and racism. Police brutality has become a big issue within our country, and black men were recently taken away in handcuffs for enjoying an afternoon at Starbucks.
Confederate statues have also made the news recently. They still haunt the University of Mississippi. When a drunken driver recently hit the Confederate statue on campus, the university had two choices – tear down the statue, or pay to have it fixed.
After many cries from black students who were uncomfortable with the statue, one would think university leaders would choose to tear down the statue. Instead, private funds were used to fix the statue, regardless of the feelings of African American students on campus.
When young adults go to college, their parents expect them to be safe. The college campus is their new home. How can they feel safe and comfortable at a school that has Confederate statues constantly watching over them?
Many people argue that the Confederate statues represent their culture, but they represent it at the expense of African American humanity. If an issue offends someone else and makes them worry about their safety, you should have enough humanity to care.
A few weeks ago, the University of Mississippi’s Students Against Social Injustice organization held a march protesting the Confederate statue on campus. Many African American students have expressed concern about the Confederate statue because they feel it is constantly watching over them, reminding them of the pain their ancestors experienced.
Since I have been at the university, there has been a lot of tension concerning Confederate issues. My freshman year on campus, there was a march against the Confederate flags and marches against students making racial comments towards African American students.
Those marches were effective and got the attention of university leaders. However, marches this year, have not been as impactful. There are more people fighting to keep the statue up.
Student Mya King participated in a Confederate statue march. “I have always been a strong believer in protest,” she said. “However, when it was time for the march to start, I was disappointed by the lack of students that showed up.”
Protests were more successful in past years because students of color were dedicated to solving issues. Confederate supporters are not concerned with how the history makes people of color feel – uncomfortable or out of place.
This is not only a Mississippi issue. There are many cities haunted by the Confederacy. Many Confederate statues remain, and this will continue to be an ongoing battle between people who claim the Confederacy as a culture, and people of color.