Civil Rights

As the debate over Confederate statues continues, Professor Peniel Joseph talks about historical context of the Confederacy. Removing the statues, he says, represents "honoring the best of our history and not trying to somehow scrub or efface that history." 

Just past the southern gates at the Texas State Capitol stands the Confederate Soldiers Monument, a symbol of the men who gave their lives in the name of the south.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis towers above them. That statue was erected nearly 40 years after the end of the Civil War.

"Jefferson Davis was seen in the 1910s and 20s not as a traitor, but as a courageous defender of white rule and that's what those statues were designed to maintain. Some of them even say that," says University of Texas history professor Jeremi Suri.

 

If history is any indicator, the Charlottesville tragedy, in which one protester was killed and more than dozen were hospitalized, could be the spark that ignites change, according to Jeremi Suri, a University of Texas at Austin professor of history and public affairs.

After a White House breakfast celebrating Black History Month, President Donald Trump's comments on Frederick Douglass are one example of why Black History Month still matters, says Professor Peniel Joseph. 

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