As discourse about America’s racist past and present reaches a fever pitch, members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans want to build new monuments to the failed Southern state.
According to the Associated Press, the SCV, whose post-Charlottesville aim is to divorce Confederate monuments from the type of racism on display at the “Unite the Right” rally, unveiled a memorial for “Unknown Alabama Confederate Soldiers” earlier in September. Their goal: to highlight the historical struggles the South faced during and after the Civil War.
“What I want to get across is how much the South suffered, not only through the war but after the war, during the Reconstruction years,” said David Coggins, owner of the Confederate Veterans Memorial Park in Brantley, Alabama where the “unknown soldier” memorial was erected. His comments reflect a disconnect between the way white Southerners view the Reconstruction era, which immediately followed the Civil War and saw gains for newly-freed African-Americans prior to the establishment of Jim Crow laws, and the way black Americans view it.
SCV claims that the new monuments they’re building are different than the older ones that are being torn down, most of which were built decades after the Civil War ended.
“The problem was with some of the other statues that were put up, that were basically intended to intimidate people,” Danny Francis, a commander in a South Carolina SCV unit, told the AP. “We’re not trying to oppress anyone – we’re just historians. We welcome everybody.”
The NAACP, however, says the new monuments serve the same purpose as the old.
“We’re trying to heal a nation, and with more and more of these going up, it’s a continuous slap in the face,” Benard Simelton, president of the NAACP’s Alabama conference, said.
Along with the Alabama memorial, SCV also unveiled a Confederate marker in Chikamunga, Georgia earlier this year.