Lee is a pivotal figure in American history worthy of study. Neither the man who really existed, nor the fictionalized tragic hero of the Lost Cause, is a hero worthy of a statue in a place of honor. As one Union veteran angrily put it in 1903 when Pennsylvania was considering placing a statue of Lee at Gettysburg, “If you want historical accuracy as your excuse, then place upon this field a statue of Lee holding in his hand the banner under which he fought, bearing the legend: ‘We wage this war against a government conceived in liberty and dedicated to humanity.’” The most fitting monument to Lee is the national military cemetery the federal government placed on the grounds of his former home in Arlington.Serwer, Adam. (2017, June 4). The Myth of the Kindly General Lee. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/the-myth-of-the-kindly-general-lee/529038/
This speech by Frederick Douglass never gets old, particularly the paragraphs below.
If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.Douglass, Frederick. (1850, August 3). (1857) Frederick Douglass, “if There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress”. BlackPast. https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/1857-frederick-douglass-if-there-no-struggle-there-no-progress/
This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
He walked away feeling more manly, more righteous, and more like a cowboy than he’d ever feel in his life again. That’s what keeps them after us. They need to feel their groins contract. They need to feel big in this world and they can’t seem to do it without killing us. The feeling doesn’t last and so they come for more of us. It is a voracious, depraved need. It is old and it is still here.Bellamy, S. (2020, June 8). Performing Whiteness. The Paris Review. https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2020/06/08/the-performance-of-white-bodies/
Stating that Black lives matter is a very minimum acknowledgement of humanity. The tenacity of the fight against this statement should absolutely stagger Americans and signal how far we have yet to go. Statements of solidarity must be actualized. We need more gentleness, compassion, and courage embodied by white people. We need people, not performance. We need for expressions of Black freedom, joy, grief, and rage not to cost us our lives. We need to get free.
The body is a powerful thing.
If it can breathe.