Black Community Wonders Why Confederate Statues Are Being Taken Down Now

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter

Older members of the black community are wondering why the debate on whether Confederate statues should be taken down is just occurring now.

Black Texans who experienced the Jim Crow south believe that Confederate statues should have been addressed years ago in a series of interviews with the Dallas Morning News published Sunday.

While they agreed the monuments represent a dark part of American history, they weren’t sure if removing the statues would change what happened during that time. Many states and universities are tearing down their Confederate statues in light of a white supremacist rally Aug. 12 in Charlottesville.

“Sometimes I don’t understand why they’re raising so much Cain about [the statues] now … Why now? … This is something I guess should have been done or addressed a long time ago,” Bennie Ruth Dickens, a 77-year-old black woman told Dallas News.

Most of the black community who grew up during the Civil Rights era thought the white supremacists who gathered Aug. 12 posed more of a threat than Confederate monuments. Others interviewed believed that removing the statues was a positive thing because America would no longer be honoring the Confederacy era.

“The statues themselves are not about honoring history,” Keisha Bentley-Edwards, a professor at Duke University, said, according to Dallas News. “Most of them were built out of intimidation and as a way to reinforce control over primarily African-Americans and people of color; to let you know who was in charge.”

Frank Moss Sr., a 72-year-old black man who helped found the Tarrant County Black Historical Genealogical Society, cautioned people against erasing America’s history.

“I don’t have a strong feeling that we have to go in and take them down right now,” Moss told Dallas News. “We need to be able to interpret what these statues mean and what happened during the period in which these individuals were around.”

A Marist poll released Aug.17 found that 44 percent of black people wanted Confederate statues to stay where they were, while 40 percent said they should be taken down.

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