Why are we erecting new Confederate monuments? “Old Joe,” erected in 1909 in our town square, has been controversial for years. Many municipalities have rejected the argument that these statues venerate ancestors who fought in a war and have acknowledged that the vast majority were built during the Jim Crow era as a means of intimidating Black Americans and proclaiming White supremacy.
Evidently, Gainesville is moving in the opposite direction, not only keeping “Old Joe” but allowing the erection of a monument to the Confederacy at the Longstreet Bridge — heading north on U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway.
It’s not a memorial to Gen. James Longstreet, who, after the war, was labeled a “scalawag” for joining the Republican Party and encouraging the South to admit defeat and rebuild with greater racial equality. It is clearly marked as a memorial to the Civil War. The second line does not show the dates of Longstreet’s life, but instead reads “1861 — CSA — 1865.”
Do we really need another visual reminder of this war — don’t we live with the ramifications of it every day? As a white woman, I can only imagine the pain of the descendants of enslaved people when they see these tributes to “The Lost Cause.”