Amid Confederate monument controversy, some older black people ask, 'Why now?'
For some, the monuments are a painful reminder of the tactics used to oppress black people during the Jim Crow and civil rights eras, to establish who was in control.
For seven years, Keisha Bentley-Edwards was an assistant professor of educational psychology and black studies at University of Texas at Austin. Most days, Bentley-Edwards had to pass by the Confederate monuments on campus.
Late on Aug. 20, the university abruptly removed three Confederate monuments overnight.
In a written statement, UT-Austin President Greg Fenves said the events in Virginia “make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”
Bentley-Edwards , 42, now an assistant professor of medicine at Duke University in Durham, N.C., said she was glad to hear about the removal of the statues at UT-Austin. “The statues themselves are not about honoring history," she said. "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.”
Bentley-Edwards also believes the statues tell an uneven story of history, only displaying the Confederacy, and not the Union, liberation or enslaved people.
"As we educate children .... we tell them that racism is wrong, that slavery is wrong. Yet, we have to pass monuments, or possibly send my child to a school that celebrates stalwart defenders of racism and slavery," Bentley-Edwards said.
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