AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Discussions about removing Confederate monuments in Augusta and nation-wide resurfaced during talks of racial injustice. This all follows the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
At least three different groups that fight for African American’s rights want the Broad Street dedication destroyed or moved somewhere else. Those people told us it’s a dark reminder of past racism that continues today.
But since the end of the Civil War, it has honored those men who fought and died.
“And we as the black community is supposed to honor that also when he had us enslaved fighting his war or their war? It needs to be taken down,” said activist and Street Justice Founder, Ray Montana.
You heard it just a few years ago. Groups such as the NAACP urging the removal of the monument dedicated to the Confederate dead.
Montana explained, “Perhaps they may not have to destroy it. Perhaps they need a monumental place like a Confederate grave site. Place it in your Confederate grave sites that’s across America.”
Montana, an activist involved in nearly all of the protests in Augusta last week, said he joins Black Lives Matter and the National Action Network of the CSRA in calling for the reminder of our nation’s past to come down.
NAN of the CSRA Vice President Morris Porter said his newly formed organization wants the monument away from downtown Augusta in order to move beyond past racial ills.
Porter said, “What do you tell your children? We don’t want to have to tell our children that this is a guy who promoted racism towards someone with your skin complexion.”
The Confederate monument went up in 1878 with the help of The Ladies Memorial Association of Augusta, a group of women grieving the death of the men in their lives who served in the Civil War.
Fast forward to 2020 where protests and other demonstrations call out racial issues in America, and some groups say an Augusta with no reminder of southern separation is a better Augusta.
“You don’t see any of us being honored like that and we fought as well,” Porter explained. “If we’re going to honor them that actually promoted this type of hatred then where do they honor us at? We’re trying to promote equality for all people.”
The Commission tackled the issue before and had talks to rename the John C. Calhoun Expressway, a move that can only be taken up by state government. Dennis Williams told NewsChannel 6 he’s fine with Augusta’s Confederate monument staying put and serving as a reminder to not be complacent.
“I’m not a contractor, but it’s going to be a large cost in removing the monument, replacing it somewhere else, finding a permanent home for it and probably repairing it,” Commissioner Williams, of District 2, said.
Montana said he is prepared to raise funds to take the monument down. He estimates it will cost more than $20,000 accomplish the goal.
The Ladies Memorial Association of Augusta erected the monument in 1878 to honor those men who died in battle. No word on if anyone part of that group is still living.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps