Connect with us

National

US Capitol’s Confederate Statues Prompt Renewed Debate

Published

on

A statue of Jefferson Davis, second from left, is on display in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 24, 2015. The statue was given to the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol by Mississippi in 1931. Davis served the nation in many positions before being appointed president of the Confederate States during the Civil War, including Secretary of War, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a member of the U.S. Senate.  The move in South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds is prompting members of Congress to take a new look at Confederate images that surround them every day.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

A statue of Jefferson Davis, second from left, is on display in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 24, 2015. The statue was given to the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol by Mississippi in 1931. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

ERICA WERNER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Alexander H. Stephens, onetime vice president of the Confederacy, sits memorialized in stone, right leg crossed over left, staring sternly into the distance as summer-clad tourists mill about him in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall. Solemn and cold, he looks like he could sit there for eternity.

But the renewed debate about symbols of the Confederacy in the wake of the horrific shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, raises new questions about whether he will.

The move in South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds is prompting members of Congress to take a new look at Confederate images that surround them every day, including statues of Stephens, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and a number of other Confederate leaders or fighters.

“I want to see it go. I want to see it go,” Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a leader during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, said of the statue of Stephens, who also served as Georgia’s governor.

“Young children, school children, walk by these statues, and those of us who serve in the Congress, we have to get our own house in order,” Lewis said. “We have to have a cleansing in this place.”

Some of Lewis’ Republican colleagues disagree.

“He did a lot of other great things in Georgia other than being vice president of the Confederacy, and that’s just one of the things he did in life and you can’t change that,” Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., said of Stephens. “To me it doesn’t equate. The flag is a very divisive symbol that people take very much offense to.”

In a similar debate, the House considered a resolution from Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., on Thursday calling for the removal of any state flag depicting the Confederate battle flag from the House portion of the U.S. Capitol and from House office buildings.

Thompson said his measure would affect only Mississippi, the sole state whose flag still contains the rebel insignia — “a symbol that represents bigotry, hatred, and everything this country is not,” Thompson said. Over Thompson’s objections but at the urging of House GOP leaders, the House voted 240-184 to refer the measure to committee, where Republicans pledged it would be fully considered.

Some 10 figures in the National Statuary Hall Collection are of Confederate leaders, or people who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Apart from Stephens, Lee and Davis, they include Edmund Kirby Smith of Florida, a general who “surrendered the last military force of the Confederacy,” according to the Architect of the Capitol’s description; James Zachariah George of Mississippi, a Confederate colonel who was imprisoned and taught law to fellow prisoners; and Joseph Wheeler of Alabama, a noted cavalry general in the Confederate army.

Each state donates two statues to the Statuary Hall Collection and they are selected by individual states, not by the federal government or Capitol officials. Decisions on whether to keep or remove them are up to state officials.

In the case of the statue of Stephens, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said it was already under discussion by the state, and he declined to declare his own views. “I’m going to share my input with the governor and the committee as he puts that together and we’re going to do the right thing in Georgia,” Isakson said.

Apart from the Statuary Hall Collection, numerous other statues, portraits and busts dot every corridor and office of the Capitol. Among them is a bust of John Cabell Breckinridge, who served as vice president under President James Buchanan and went on to join the Confederate army and become secretary of war to the Confederacy. There is no comprehensive list that shows whether any other Confederate figures number among the Capitol images.

The Pentagon has also found itself reckoning with the legacy of the Confederacy. The Army’s top spokesman issued a brief statement Wednesday defending the past practice of having forts and posts named after Confederate generals, saying they represent individuals, not causes.

Calls to remove Confederate statues seem to be coming mainly from Democrats.

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., issued a statement calling for Smith’s statue to be removed. “A wave is sweeping the country to revisit symbols and representations that better reflect the accuracy of our nation’s history and a more inclusive legacy,” she said.

Others thought differently. Sen. Tim Scott, a black Republican from South Carolina, embraced his state’s call to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds but said he didn’t think the move should extend to statues at the U.S. Capitol.

“I don’t think there should be another look on this, to be honest with you,” Scott said. “The South has a rich and provocative history which includes a lot of things that were good and a lot of things that were not.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Events

Bust of BPP Co-Founder Huey P. Newton to be Unveiled at West Oakland Block Party on Oct. 24

The Dr. Huey P.  Newton Foundation is hosting a block party celebration for the unveiling on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. that will feature local artists, politicians and businesses and the community is invited. The event will be MC’d by Ms. Gina Belafonte.

Published

on

Rendering of the Huey P. Newton memorial bust that will be unveiled in Oakland, CA on Oct 24, 2021./ Artist rendering provided by Karin Unger

Installed on a granite base with a seating area for people to reflect on the legacy of Black Panther Party Co-Founder Huey Newton, the memorial bust of his image is the first permanent art installation honoring the BPP in the City of Oakland.

The Dr. Huey P.  Newton Foundation is hosting a block party celebration for the unveiling on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. that will feature local artists, politicians and businesses and the community is invited. The event will be MC’d by Ms. Gina Belafonte.

The Foundation collaborated with world-renowned and local artist Dana King on the creation, which will be placed on Dr. Huey P. Newton Way (formerly 9th Street) and Mandela Parkway, the same street where Huey took his last breath more than 32 years ago.

The Black Panther Party was co-founded by Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966. As the foundation and others commemorate the 55th anniversary of the BPP’s beginnings, the Party is remembered as both a small grassroots organization in Oakland and the international organization it grew into.

From legal self-defense from abusive police officers to survival programs that provided essential services, like free food, medical clinics, and education to the communities they served, the BPP was an exemplary organization of the Black Power era and continues to have rippling effects to this day.

Despite the FBI’s counterintelligence program, known as COINTELPRO, the Black Panther Party was the most influential revolutionary movement of the 20th century.

Newton’s widow, Fredrika Newton, founded The Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation to preserve and promulgate the important history, legacy and contributions of the BPP. The Foundation is proud to gift the Huey Newton Memorial Bust to the City of Oakland as a permanent fixture in their landscape.

 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

Continue Reading

Coronavirus

Colin L. Powell, former Secretary of State, 84

Colin L. Powell, the first Black man to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and first Black Secretary of State, died Monday of complications of COVID-19. The 84-year-old was also diagnosed with and being treated for a form of blood cancer and Parkinson’s disease. 

Published

on

United States Army General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/ Wiki Commons

Colin L. Powell, the first Black man to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and first Black Secretary of State, died Monday of complications of COVID-19. The 84-year-old was also diagnosed with and being treated for a form of blood cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

A four-star general who also served on the National Security Council, Powell was born in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants in 1937. He attended public schools in the Bronx, where he grew up, and would graduate from City College of New York before joining the armed services in 1958 as a second lieutenant because of his participation in ROTC.

He was a professional soldier for 37 years, including two tours in Vietnam, rising steadily through the ranks until achieving 4-star general status in 1989 and, later that year, became the youngest and the first Afro-Caribbean to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense.

Powell was an exceptional military leader.  He earned the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Soldier’s Medal for heroism.

A moderate, the lifelong Republican was well liked by both political parties, but he ultimately decided against running for public office himself.

He was selected in 2000 to be Secretary of State, transforming General Powell from soldier to statesman.

He became known for persuading the American public and world leaders that Iraq was creating weapons of mass destruction when he ultimately agreed with President George Bush’s administration determination to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. 

It would turn out that the allegations of weapons of mass destruction were not true and Powell would consider the war and loss of life a blot on his record the rest of his life. He returned to private life in 2005 and became an acclaimed speaker in high demand.

He broke rank with his fellow Republicans when he supported then-candidate Barack Obama’s bid for president in 2008. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice.

Powell earned the trust of U.S. presidents, foreign leaders, diplomats, and the American people.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of General Colin Powell. I send my sincere condolences to General Powell’s wife, Alma, his family, his friends, and all of his loved ones” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

“General Powell was a trailblazer, serving as the first Black Secretary of State,” Lee continued. “I was fortunate enough to travel with General Powell during my early days in Congress to monitor elections in Nigeria and was moved by his kindness and expertise. I witnessed the close friendship between the late Congressman Ron Dellums, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and General Powell.

“Their relationship was a powerful example of a mutual admiration and respect between public officials despite their different opinions on policy. Despite our disagreements on some issues, General Powell was steadfast in his commitment to racial equity, diversity and our democracy. General Powell served this country with decency, integrity, and showed respect to everyone he encountered.

“May he rest in eternal peace and power,” Lee concluded.

Powell is survived by his wife, Alma, and three children.

Sources for this story include various news sites, Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s press office and Wikipedia.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

 

Continue Reading

Events

Ella Baker Center Turns 25

Community members will have the opportunity to join the celebration virtually or in person at Restore Oakland at 1419 34th Ave, Oakland, CA 94601.

Published

on

Michelle Alexander/Photo via pbs.org

Alicia Garza

Co-founder of Black Lives Matter (BLM) Alicia Garza and Michelle Alexander, acclaimed author of “The New Jim Crow,” will join youth justice leader Xochtil Larios to discuss a collective vision for liberation at the Ella Baker Center’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 27.

After 25 years of working to empower Black and Brown communities and fighting for a world without prisons and policing, the event will seek to inspire organizers, community members and changemakers to reflect on past victories in the movement for social justice and imagine how to continue moving toward a world based on justice.

The event will include entertainment by musicians, poets as well as comments by founders of the Ella Baker Center, Dianna Frappier and Van Jones. Community members will have the opportunity to join the celebration virtually or in person at Restore Oakland at 1419 34th Ave, Oakland, CA 94601.

The in-person event will be held outdoors and available to vaccinated guests only. 

To RSVP for the virtual event, please email ashley@ellabakercenter.org by Oct. 14 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending