EDINBORO, Pa. — As the nation discusses freedom of speech and forms of expression, Edinboro University held a discussion on Confederate monuments.
Professor Lewis Brownlee, a Frederick Douglass Scholar, said, “People are actually looking in history and starting to see that there is a lot of hypocrisy, and that European/Eurocentric normatives are actually framing our history. And I think people are tired of being lied to.”
Brownlee, an instructor of Middle and Secondary Education and Educational Leadership, was one of four faculty members on the panel.
He said, “If you want to learn about these things, you can read them in a book. You don’t need a statue.”
Graduate student Ryan Richards attended the panel discussion titled What to do with a man on horseback: After Charlottesville. He said, “I, myself, believe they should stay up in some capacity, or they should be put into museums. So, that way the memory of those events can still be honored and respected in a way that everyone can still appreciate our history.”
Freshman Connor Wentworth said, “I have family from the South who says it’s like part of their heritage, but maybe it’s because I wasn’t raised in that.”
He said, “You don’t go around celebrating traitors in American history, and I think that’s what the Confederacy stands for.”
Richards explained, “We just need to show that–hey–we’ve done certain things in the past. We’re progressing each and every day. That’s why we have these monuments up to remind us of these events, so we don’t regress back to them.”
But is removing the statues an attempt to hide or erase history? Brownlee does not think so.
“We’re not going to erase history,” he said. “When it comes to white supremacy, it will never be erased. It’s systemic. It will never change. However, we can reimagine what America could be like in the future.”
Having difficult conversations is the first step to moving forward for some attendees.
“We need to appreciate the things that have happened,” said graduate student Rachel Nicely. “I think that we need to be kind to one another, love one another, and support one another as we try to figure out where we are as a country and as a society.”
While just 11 states comprised the Confederate States of America, 31 states and Washington, D.C. have a combined 700 Confederate monuments, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Two of those monuments are in Fulton County, Penn.