Your View: Statue should be a lasting reminder of the folly of racism

Your View: Statue should be a lasting reminder of the folly of racism

By Michael S. Clinkscale, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
City council recently voted unanimously to relocate the “Appomattox” statue from its current location at the intersection of South Washington and Prince streets to the Lyceum. While the vote to move the statue may be considered laudable in some circles, I believe the decision is misguided.

As a person of African-American descent, I am fully aware of the hardships my ancestors endured under a system that relegated them to initial non-human status and then, for political purposes, designated them to be sub-human.

I also have a keen understanding of the mistreatment and maltreatment Africans, as slaves and even as freedmen, suffered at the hands of both the slave-owning, and more importantly, the non-slave owning white population of the country, in general, and of Virginians and Alexandria residents, in particular.

It is also not lost on me the harmful psychological effects of Jim Crow on the black community even to this day. But a war was fought, in part, to address slavery and its ugly causes and effects. And a civil rights movement was
launched to ameliorate the vestiges of Jim Crow and the discriminatory practices associated therewith.

And while neither of these remedies has fully addressed the unfair disadvantages that many black people are still subjected to, removing a statue that represents the history of our nation, this state, and the City of Alexandria is not an acceptable approach to ad- dressing past wrongs.

If one were to look at the “Appomattox” statue, it is clear that the soldier is unarmed, facing south, with a look of defeat and dejection that should hearten black Americans. I say this because it appears that this statue is a depiction of a way of life that has been forever lost.

And I think that this statue should forever stand as a reminder of the folly of hubris and racial superiority. If this statue is moved to the Lyceum, how will future generations have ready access to such an important moral lesson? It is because of my belief that this statue is a perfect capstone to the end of an egregious period in American history that I believe city council’s decision is wrong headed.