Mr. Mayor, Remove Confederate Monument Celebrating Slavery from Public Mount Hope Cemetery
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Monuments honoring the Civil War that killed 1.1 million Union and Confederate Americans, the latter who fought in large part to sustain oppressing black slaves, should not be located in an area owned and maintained by all citizens of San Diego.
Why does the City of San Diego expect black citizens, literal descendants of the the very people the monument celebrates enslaving, oppressing, and terrorizing, to maintain such a horrific monument?
The Civil War had ended in 1865. Forty years later, in 1905 the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), bought an area within Mt. Hope Cemetery to bury area Confederate States of America (CSA) soldiers who subsequently passed away here.
Forty years after they bought the burial plots, the UDC decided to use some of the burial plots to build a monument to the war in 1948. Remember, this is not a grave marker but, a monument to the civil war and confederate soldiers who died defending succession. This wasn't an isolated event happening in San Diego alone. Just after the turn of the century, after WWII, and during the 60's Civil Rights Movement, there were surges of groups like the UDC building these memorials in response to freedoms and liberties being realized by black Americans. They did not appreciate blacks gaining an inch of ground, and over 80 years after the war, after 4 million slaves were freed, they built monuments to celebrate the war and soldiers who died defending slavery.
These are some of the events that happened just before and the following two decades after this San Diego monument was installed:
In 1946 the Supreme Court ruled segregation on buses crossing state lines was illegal. Black Americans were finally allowed to visit out of state.
1948 - Discrimination in the armed forces was banned.
1948 At this point the Mt. Hope memorial was installed.
1952 - First year since 1881 without a known lynching.
1954 - Supreme Court declares segregation in schools unconstitutional.
1955 - Rosa Parks arrested for riding a bus. Montgomery Bus Boycott began.
1957 - Federal troops protect black students terrorized at Little Rock High School.
1960 - First student sit-ins against segregation at lunch counters occurs.
1961 - Freedom Riders in the South arrests begin.
1962 - Federal troops protect James Meredith’s attending Mississippi University.
1963 - Medgar Evers, NAACP assassinated. Four black girls killed in church bombing.
1964 - Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress. Dr. King awarded Noble Peace Prize.
1965 - Malcolm X was assassinated. Voting Rights Act illegal to restrict right to vote.
1967 - Supreme Court allows inter-racial marriage.
1968 - Martin Luther King was assassinated.
In other words, this monument celebrating Confederate Army soldiers was built before black Americans could serve in the military, go to public schools and universities, or be treated equally under the law, and likely thousands of other injustices.
Yet, here we are 50 years after Dr. King was assassinated and we must discuss if we should remove monuments celebrating racism. At a time when we still see our fellow human beings who happen to be black treated unfairly, discriminated against, overly-incarcerated... the list of injustices is long.
The Daughters of the Confederacy want us to believe that this is a sentimental reminder of a forgotten time. They likely prefer we go back to not just 50 years ago, but 150 years ago, a thought that would return America to such a time that would primarily oppress a group of fellow Americans - because of their skin color.
To ultimate insult is the monument sits in a cemetery-park maintained by and paid for by all city taxpayers - black, white, and brown. In essence, San Diego is taxing black San Diegans to pay for a monument that supports their time as slaves, and honoring their being bought, sold, beaten, raped, terrorized, while their entire heritage and lineage were decimated.
This is not a tombstone, it is a monument on public property celebrating a racist past. This monument is inappropriate. It should not sit on public land. It should not be paid for by black, brown or white San Diegans who care.
We The People must look past our history and at today. How are we personally and as a community acting and treating others, honoring others, respecting others? Why do we allow monuments celebrating slavery? Is San Diego a city that is truly inclusive or, one in name only?
We ask for the removal of this monument to honor every San Diegan as well as the men and women who died bravely defending our nation from secessionist forces seeking to destroy the fabric of America.
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Photo used under the Fair Use Act and credited to: San Diego Union Tribune http://www.trbimg.com/img-57bd9f46/turbine/sdut-confederate-flag-civil-war-reaction-2015jun28
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