Written by Dory Dearest, Image by Smooth Geek Photography
I consider myself to be from the cities of the Civil Rights Movement. I was born in Montgomery, AL, and spent the majority of my life living there. However, the weekends of my childhood, and a couple of years of high school, were spent in Dallas County Alabama. Home to the famous city of Selma. In Montgomery, I went to diverse schools with children of all ethnicities, nationalities, and cultures. At the time, it seemed that Montgomery had learned from its past and realized that the voices of its citizens matter. However, citizens have been speaking against a statue for years and no actions had been taken.
Robert E. Lee High School is one of five public high schools in Montgomery. Back in 1960, a 52-year-old statue of Robert E. Lee found a home in front of the then predominately white high school. Decades later, things have changed, and the school now houses a majority black student body. For years, requests over the statue’s removal have been ignored and much controversy surrounds the topic. As a result of the voices of local citizens being overlooked for years, and in the midst of the protest, four Alabama residence acted and removed the statue from its pedestal. Just as Rosa Parks spoke out against her right to be treated equally and with respect, these individuals can be considered to have spoken out against their injustice by removing the statue.
The south is littered with confederate statues that are considered historic artifacts. For years, people have attempted to have them removed as they are a reminder of the past injustices that people of color have endured in this country. These historic artifacts have been called “slave trophies” and cities all over the United States have been bombarded with requests for their removal. The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, is currently fighting for the removal of another Lee statue, per the request of Virginia resident, due to its “divisive” nature. It is clear that these old relics may be a part of our history but continue to be offensive to many due to this country’s slavery driven past.
However, America is finally coming together. People of various colors are uniting in the memory of the late George Floyd. A father that lost his life horribly lying on asphalt with a police officer’s knee on his neck in a filthy city street due to mismanagement of authority by an unethical member of law enforcement. The hurt, pain, and suffering of other Americans, especially people of color, due to flaws in law enforcement and unethical judicial tolerances has caused our country to unite and voice those feelings publicly. In Montgomery, that included the removal of an unwanted statue but across the world, protesting has become the popular method.
Since the end of May, protests have been developing all over the US with the National Guard being deployed to over 20 states including Nevada, Massachusetts, California, and Georgia. First, there was Minneapolis, where George Floyd tragically lost his life. Citizens took to the streets to express their disapproval and show how irate they were about the final moments of Mr. Floyd’s life. It only took one day to ignite the fire that would carry across not only the United States but the World.
Floyd’s death has resulted in protests globally, including places like Brazil, Ireland, and New Zealand. The global response shows that the mistreatment of a human being is not acceptable anywhere, especially if it is due to the color of a person’s skin. Around the world, people have and continue to protest in front of US Embassy Buildings to show their support of ending racism and to support people of color. Flash mobs in Italy, candlelight vigils in Iran, marches in Belgium, and moments of silence in Germany shows how powerful a message can be when people are brought together for a notable cause.
The message is clear. There needs to be changes made on a local and national level. Actions must be taken in order to initiate change and sometimes a bold statement must be made to show the seriousness of an issue. Rosa Parks’ decision to not give up her seat on the bus resulted in a movement that changed the way the US treated its people of color. The removal of the Lee statue is just a small reminder of how people commit bold acts when their voices are not heard.