A new front in the culture war is opening in Madison County, Alabama, where the people are trying have a monument to sedition and slavery removed from in front of a local courthouse. They are raising funds for the city to pay a legal fine that the state of Alabama will impose if it is removed.
On the courthouse green in Huntsville Alabama stands a monument erected during the Jim Crow era to commemorate men who died fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War. It is currently protected under state law from being removed by the people of Huntsville. A law signed by Governor Kay Ivey last month establishes a fine to any city that removes “historical monuments or memorials,” more than forty years old.
Now, the Tennessee Valley Progressive Alliance is raising funds to help the city pay the twenty five thousand dollar fine to the state.
David Odom of the TVPA says “We read the fine print of the law and the law just says the state will fine localities up to $25,000 for removing monuments. And we said, ‘Well, shoot, we ought to be able to put that together. Let’s just see what happens, what do we have to lose?’ We thought crowdfunding might be an option.”
Odom says “With sufficient public pressure, any politician can be persuaded to do the right thing. We view it as our job to generate that public pressure. I think Huntsville is in a unique position to lead Alabama on this issue. Huntsville is kind of a melting pot and likes to think of itself as a progressive city. We’ve got two Historically Black Universities, the federal government presence, all of that makes this symbol of white supremacy even more abhorrent when it’s in the center of downtown Huntsville. We’re optimistic in the long run. We think we can continue to build pressure around this issue and educate folks about what this means. The inscription on the monuments talks about the principles that gave birth to the confederate cause. Well, those principles were slavery and white supremacy. It’s just a plain matter of right and wrong.”
If the TVPA cannot raise enough money to cover any fines levied, they will use the money to erect a public memorial for victims of lynchings in the Madison County area.
The American Civil War began after years of contentious debate in Congress over the issue of slavery. Southern slave states, ostensibly arguing for state’s rights, leveraged their delegations to compel northern free states to abide the practice that had already been banned by several European nations. In April, 1861 after the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, Confederate forces laid siege to the federal military installation at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. The ensuing war was the most devastating conflict ever fought on US soil. It lasted four years and caused 1.68 million combined combat deaths, as well as one hundred and twenty thousand civilian deaths.
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