Why Statues of Founding Fathers Aren't 'Next'

The faces of George Washington, left, and Thomas Jefferson emerge during the construction of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Bettmann Archive via Getty Images

“I do not agree with everything that Trump says, but I do think the issue with the monuments does beg a lager questions of what’s next? But what’s next in how we educate our nation and who we choose to memorialize,” said Dunbar, who authored a book about the Washingtons' relentless pursuit of a runaway slave

“Part of the problem is we choose white men and usually those that were involved in battle,” Dunbar added. “I’m less interested the question that we should take down statues of George Washington and see inclusion and create a more accurate American narrative to memorialize.”

However, the historians said there’s no doubt Charlottesville is a flashpoint for the nation to aggressively examine the issue of removal.

City officials across the country have ramped up efforts to remove symbols of the Confederacy, which many say represent racist ideas.

The events following Charlottesville, where 19 were injured and one died, have buoyed Take Em Down NOLA, a grassroots organization based in New Orleans.

The group was founded after white supremacist Dylann Roof gunned down nine black parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina, and movements sprung up to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds.

The group has pressed New Orleans officials to not only remove statues and names of Confederate figures around the city, but also U.S. presidents who were slave owners.

Malcolm Suber, one of the group’s founders, told On Events that the dedication of these statues is a slap in the face to a majority African-American city.

“Our position is, we don’t want in your public spaces any slave masters or Confederates, those are people who should not be venerated,” Suber said, citing Washington and President Andrew Jackson as figures whose statues should be removed. “We have always understood what these statues stood for.”

“We recognize the original sin was the genocide of the Native Americans and the enslavement of the Africans,” he added. “People bring up the fact that they were Founding Fathers. That’s people’s opinions, but for us what disqualifies you is the slave-owning.”

New Orleansremoved four prominent Confederate monuments this year and helped prompt a national debate, but the city remains in limbo over removing more.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office previously told Eyes On Events that officials are still soliciting queries. His office did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

“This is a tricky process, but hopefully out of this deep sadness, anger and frustration something good can come out of this, which is re-imagining the way we memorialize the past to know more about our past and the future,” said Dunbar, the Rutgers history professor. “There must be another way to recognize and remember the other men and women who were not presidents; what about the enslaved people who built the White House?”

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