Remove Confederate Monument from Willis Park in Bainbridge, Georgia
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It's hard to think of Bainbridge without picturing Willis Park: band concerts in the gazebo, picnics on the grassy lawn, caroling on Christmas Eve illuminated by candlelight. Arguably one of the most charming spots in Decatur County, this otherwise beautiful area is blighted by an ugly shrine to our city's dark past. A monument dedicated to Bainbridge's Confederate veterans has stood at the park's center since 1905, when it was first erected by the Bainbridge Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
The monument purports to honor those who fought for the Confederate States of America, but let us be clear about what it's actually doing.
it is glorifying mutiny and treason perpetrated by white men who could not stand to live in a country where black men were considered their equals.
It is suggesting that racism ought to be celebrated, admired, and put on a pedestal.
It is claiming these men who were willing to die to keep black men enslaved are heroes who deserve veneration.
It is serving as an ominous reminder to our black neighbors that they are not welcome at our picnics and concerts, that they have no place in our quaint little town square.
It is attempting to uphold the outdated creeds of an imaginary country, and we are not going to stand for it any longer.
Less than one hundred years ago, the statue's meaning was much more explicit. It served as the nucleus around which the lynched bodies of two black men, William Reed and Gus Goodman, were dragged. The significance of the statue in these two incidents should be obvious.
In light of the recent resurgence of the KKK and neo-Nazism, we are faced with a responsibility we ought to have upheld a long time ago: condemning our racist past and putting it where it belongs: a museum. Specifically, the Bainbridge museum located in the town square. On behalf of many concerned citizens and affiliates of Bainbridge and Decatur County, I ask that this shameful monument be taken down so that our park can finally be a place everyone in Bainbridge can enjoy, regardless of their race.
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