Removal of Confederate Monument on Owensboro Courthouse Lawn
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As many of you know, Downtown Owensboro has made some very beautiful and progressive changes in recent years. Many families love strolling through Smothers park and enjoy learning about Owensboro's rich history, such as the Owensboro Wagon Company, which was established in 1884. It was one of the largest and most influential wagon companies in the nation. Many families also visit the Bluegrass Museum, or are just passing through for The Barbecue Festival. However, I'd like to point out an eyesore that is also rooted into deep hatred. The "Confederate Monument in Owensboro" consists of two parts. The granite base is nine feet tall, and has carved upon it a wreath encircling the original Confederate flag. The statue depicts a Confederate soldier on alert bearing a rifle and wearing a short jacket and slouch hat. It is seven feet tall and made of bronze. It was made at the John Williams Bronze Foundry in New York, and was sculpted by the Romanian-American "sculptor of the Confederacy" George Julian Zolnay. The Monument was placed on the courthouse lawn in September 1900 by the John C. Breckinridge Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, after several years of fund raising.
Now let me tell you about these United Daughters of the Confederacy. Also known as the UDC, is a hereditary association of Southern women established in 1894. Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center lists them as a Neo-Confederate group. Some historians have also described them as supporting white supremacist ideas. In 1896, the organization established the Children of the Confederacy to teach the same values to the younger generation, through a mythical depiction of the Civil War and Confederacy designed to rewrite history. According to DuRocher, "Like the KKK's children's groups, the UDC utilized the Children of the Confederacy to impart to the rising generations their own white-supremacist vision of the future."
The communications studies scholar W. Stuart Towns notes UDC's role in demanding textbooks for public schools that told the story of the war and the Confederacy from a definite southern point of view. He adds that their work is one of the essential elements of perpetuating Confederate mythology.
On the other side of the courthouse lawn, there is a newly erected plaque honoring the African Americans who fought and died for the Union Cause. It was erected in 2017. Rev. Rhondalyn Randolph stated her opinion on the statue, "Some believe that it is a stance or a pride in one's heritage but we really need to look at what exactly that heritage stands for," Randolph said. "There is not a balance to accurately display what the atmosphere was [during the Civil War.] It gave the impression that this area was sold on the Confederacy and that is not true." "The first step in bringing balance to that depiction of the Confederate soldier was the installation of the landmark," "I think this should be a beginning of how we can also recognize the Union side."
I personally feel as though there is no way to balance this symbol of generational hatred, and therefore it must be removed as soon as possible, in order to negate any misinformation that we may teach our future generations. We must let the future citizens of Owensboro know that white supremacy is not celebrated nor even condoned by the citizens of this beautiful city. Please do what you think is best for the children.
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