Sarah Grace Goolden
Universities all over the nation are being met with criticism for the names of campus buildings. Dickinson College is an example of this, as they are considering renaming three buildings named after advocates of slavery. This is something that has been overlooked for years. Many of the university buildings students use every day are named after racists and it’s time we begin eliminating their mark, not just in higher education, but everywhere they were unfortunately memorialized. Racists have no place in our institutions.
In 2018, protestors toppled the Confederate monument at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The statue, named “Silent Sam,” depicts a Confederate soldier and many called for its removal. Others wanted the monument to remain up to preserve southern history. However, southern history is smeared with racism and injustices. Glorifying Confederate soldiers and the Civil War only perpetuates those backwards ideas.
I think to fundamentally get to the root of why we must remove these monuments and names, it is important to remember why we name buildings and build statues. It is to revere important people in our history and what they have contributed to society. There are buildings named after Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr.. The Statue of Liberty represents freedom for all. The idea of memorializing someone for as long as that piece of architecture stands means that that person did something worth remembering. It’s more than just not forgetting someone; it is holding them to a standard which we should all strive for.
Racists and slave owners do not fall into that category. This blight on our history should always be remembered but not in any way that praises them. They need to be remembered in museums so as to repeat our mistakes.
Our history cannot be erased, no matter how ugly it is. More than that, though, our history should not be erased. The injustices felt by minorities in this country cannot be swept under the rug. Preserving this idealization of the Civil War in museums ensures those abuses are remembered forever, no matter how uncomfortable they make us. It’s most important to keep alive the history we are ashamed of so we can avoid it in the future.
Southern culture has a lot to be proud of. Those things include collard greens, politeness and beautiful scenery, not racist slave owners and racist apologists. It’s time for those statues to come down and our buildings to be renamed. Our past cannot be changed but we can always do better.