What should be done with the monuments erected to honor Confederate leaders and soldiers — as well as Confederate names attached to streets and buildings? It's a question that has simmered for decades. Confederate monuments situated in front of courthouses and on town squares throughout the South have been known to signal a system of white supremacy promoted by the Confederacy. Many community members find these monuments polarizing for that reason. At the Atlanta History Center, we believe that Confederate monuments can be educational tools as tangible signs of the Jim Crow Era, and give us an opportunity to consider that very painful period of our history. To be clear, if these monuments are to stay, they should be accompanied by contextual information, explaining their historical role. The monuments cannot remain objects of veneration; they should become artifacts of interpretation that promote reexamination of the past we share.
The Atlanta History Center has created the tools to help put the monuments in historical perspective, including general information on the Lost Cause and a template for adding specific information relevant to local monuments. It is our hope that communities will take up this work to learn and share more about the hundreds of Confederate monuments throughout Georgia and other southern states.
For materials, questions, or comments, send us an email at Monuments@AtlantaHistoryCenter.com.