In this letter, I take the opportunity to express my view as to the purpose of the monuments to the Southern cause. It is obvious to all that the South lost the war. What is not always acknowledged is that after a half-hearted attempt at what was called Reconstruction, that the South won the peace.
It was clear that the white population that was on top before the war was on top after the war. Very little had changed. Slavery was abolished to be replaced by a system that accomplished the same ends.
What ensued from the end of Reconstruction to the successes of the civil rights movement was the continued suppression of Afro-American peoples in the South. The measures employed were the Klan, Jim Crow laws and lynchings with a legal system that turned a blind eye.
Only when organized resistance arose did the white population feel the need to remind the Afro-American population of who was in charge in the South. Hence, the erection of edifices glorifying the confederacy and the “Lost Cause Myth.”
I speak as a son of the South who has researched his family history, which includes many family members who fought, at great personal cost, on the Southern side. Now is the time to recognize as did Wendell Berry in his essay, “The Hidden Wound,” the utter inhumanity of slavery as practiced in the South.
Now is the time to recognize and call out the bullies and the haters. Now is the time to recognize Afro-Americans as full citizens of our nation. We can begin this task by moving the monuments to Southern glory to memorial parks and the Confederate battle flag to museums.
Charles A. Berry