Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Alabama lawmakers vote forbidding any changes to Confederate monuments in order to preserve history (kelly Macias) · Friday, April 28, 2017, 9:58 pm

Oh, Alabama—forever taking a few tiny steps forward toward progress and a whole bunch backward. The state that represents the tenacity and determination of the civil rights movement just took a giant leap back toward its “Segregation Now, Segregation Forever” George Wallace days with the passage of its latest bill. Alabama lawmakers in the House of Representatives passed a measure on Thursday forbidding any changes to Confederate or long-standing monuments in the state. The bill now heads to the Senate for approval.

Lawmakers argued for about three hours about the intention of the bill.

Critics called the move an offensive effort to preserve monuments with links to the Confederacy and slavery. Proponents say that they want to maintain the history of the state.

A previous version of the bill would have stopped changes from being made to monuments that are more than 20-years-old but lawmakers removed the time stipulation entirely.

Proponents have a point—it is actually really important to remember the history of the state. But let’s be honest about the history that we are trying to remember: that history includes keeping people in bondage and buying and selling them like property, which consequently made Alabama’s landowners very wealthy. That history also includes systems (interpersonal and structural) of racial oppression and discrimination that marginalize people of color and continue into the present. That history is inextricably linked with the persons and symbols these monuments represent. So we cannot act as if Alabama’s history is benign and simply just “is.”

And honestly, doesn’t Alabama have more important things to worry about? It is the fourth poorest state in the country and 19.2 percent of its residents live below the poverty line. Surely, lawmakers could worry about fixing that before some old reminders of decades past. But who knows. Maybe one of their cities will take a hint from New Orleans and eventually take their Confederate monuments down. If it can happen in Louisiana, perhaps there’s hope for progress after all.


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