Stonewall Jackson Kin: Take Down Confederate Monuments

A great-great-grandson of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson said Thursday that the monument to the legendary Confederate general and others in Virginia's capital city were constructed as symbols of white supremacy and should be taken down.

Meanwhile, a descendant of Jefferson Davis said he supports moving the statues to appropriate settings, such as museums.

Jackson's great-great-grandson told The Associated Press that he used to be open to the idea that the statues on Richmond's famed Monument Avenue - which memorialize southern Civil War heroes, including Jackson - might be acceptable if context were added to explain why they were built.

However, the racially charged violence in Charlottesville has shown that to be impossible, Jack Christian said.

"They were constructed to be markers of white supremacy. They were constructed to make black people fearful," Christian said. "I can only imagine what persons of color who have to walk and drive by those every morning think and feel."

Bertram Hayes-Davis, a great-great-grandson of Davis, told the AP that he believes that "complete removal is wrong." But the descendant of the Confederate president said that putting the statues "in a historic place where the entire story can be explained is the best outcome for the American public."

Jack Christian and his brother Warren Christian said in a letter to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney published by Slate on Wednesday that it is "long overdue" for the city to remove the "overt symbols of white racism and white supremacy. The men said they want to make clear that the statue -- and their great-great-grandfather's actions -- do not represent them.

"While we are not ashamed of our great great grandfather, we are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer," the brothers and Richmond natives wrote. "We are ashamed of the monument."

Michael Shoop, who wrote a book on the genealogy of the Jackson family, confirmed that the men are descendants of the Confederate general.

Christian said he would like to see the statues preserved after they are removed from public display. He said he has heard from one relative who said she agreed with the sentiments expressed in the letter.

Christian said he's pleased the Richmond mayor has decided that the former capital of the Confederacy will consider removing or relocating its statues.

The mayor had previously said he thought the monuments should stay but have context added about what they represent and why they were built, but changed course after the events in Charlottesville, where white supremacists rallied after the city voted to remove of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Stoney said he applauded the descendants of Confederate leaders for supporting his call to move the monuments.

"Every family has a history that can't be changed, but we can all have an impact on the future," The Democrat said in a statement. "In order to heal the divisions among us and move forward to a more equal and inclusive America, we need to reject these symbols when they become rallying points for hate, bigotry and violence," Stoney said.

Chaos erupted at the Charlottesville rally, which included neo-Nazis, skinheads, Ku Klux Klan members, and is believed to be the largest gathering of white supremacists in a decade. They clashed violently with counter-demonstrators, and after authorities ordered the crowd to disperse, a car plowed into a group of marchers, killing a woman and injuring 19 others. Two state police troopers who had been monitoring the chaos were also killed when their helicopter crashed outside the city.

The events in Charlottesville have quickened the pace of the removal of Confederate monuments across the country. Four Confederacy-related monuments were hauled away on trucks under cover of darkness late Tuesday night and early Wednesday in Baltimore. In Birmingham, Alabama, a 52-foot-tall obelisk honoring Confederate soldiers and sailors was covered by wooden panels at the mayor's order.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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