Thoughts of the Confederate soldier statue on the courthouse lawn have been occupying a good deal of my thinking lately. The question of my thinking is why would anyone want to honor the darkest and saddest time of America’s history?
Slavery became a necessity to ensure the survival of those early immigrants. There was no gratitude for the extreme sacrifice to provide life for those not able to provide food, shelter and the necessities of life. It had been proved by the first immigrants who died from starvation, the elements and a lack of physical and mental strength, that they were completely dependent on another’s strength. There was no handshake, words of welcome or gratitude after the horror of a kidnapping, the horror of the journey, chained and crammed into the bottom of a boat, no facilities, a journey of hell, arriving to a worse hell.
No one said, “We will build a great nation, together!” That was several hundred years ago. Has anyone said, “Thank you, we couldn’t have done it without you. We are eternally grateful for your sacrifices and what you did to build our nation! Can you forgive the unspeakable treatment you received?”
Quoting from a friend, “Self-deception is a powerful thing — like trying to make cotton candy out of two fists full of fog.” It is only a statue, a statue that symbolizes the horror of America’s saddest and darkest days. On Jan 6, 2021, the mob invading the Capitol of the United States were waving Confederate flags, again a symbol of another very sad and dark day in our history.
Is a Confederate statue, a flag and a gun the symbol of the home of the brave and the free? Is this America? When we come to the end of our journey on earth, can we say a life well lived and a life making the world a better place for all? The world is watching!
From America’s first immigrants to today, we have seldom acknowledged the importance of people of color, those who have accomplished hero status in science, education, government, business, the fine arts, sports, military and on and on. Yet we build statues and fill textbooks with accolades to whites who dishonor our constitution and country.
I received an extraordinary education, but never had the privilege of having a person of color sit in a classroom or live in the dorm with my friends and myself. It took a law to have a water fountain and restroom available for everyone. It took a law to allow everyone to enter the front door and sit anywhere you want in a place of entertainment. It took a law and the protection of an armed guard for a child of color to enter the door of a public school.
In spite of the humiliation and embarrassment, Black people have risen to leadership roles and performed extreme acts of courage to help build our nation. An extraordinary act of courage was from a small Black lady who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white male supremacist — Ms. Rosa Parks! She set the stage for a younger Black woman to present her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Biden’s inauguration.
The courthouse statue is just a statue, but what that statue symbolizes should break one’s heart and generate a modicum of shame and guilt for refusing to recognize and acknowledge all those who helped to build our nation. It also recognizes and honors those who are so eager to destroy the hard fought battle of democracy! White supremacist just means one flunked the course in common decency.
Nancy McVean is a resident of Weatherford.