A monument in Charlotte, North Carolina commemorating a Confederate reunion, which took place in 1929, has been vandalized for the second time this summer. While the tag #BlackLivesMatter has been seen on other Confederate monuments the message left in this case relates directly to the Charleston murders. The names of all nine victims were spray painted on one side while the message, “‘The Cause For Which They Fought—The Cause of Slavery Was Wrong'” was left on the other.
The following dedication appears on the monument:
- GLORIA VICTIS – / “IN COMMEMORATION OF THE 39TH. ANNUAL REUNION OF / THE UNITED CONFEDERATE VETERANS AT CHARLOTTE, / NORTH CAROLINA, JUNE 4-7, 1929./ A STATE AND CITY’S TRIBUTE OF LOVE; IN GRATEFUL / RECOGNITION OF THE SERVICES OF THE CONFEDERATE / SOLDIERS WHOSE HEROISM IN WAR AND FIDELITY IN / PEACE HAVE NEVER BEEN SURPASSED / ACCEPTING THE ARBITRAMENT OF THE WAR, THEY PRESERVED / THE ANGLO-SAXON CIVILIZATION OF THE SOUTH AND / BECAME MASTER BUILDERS IN A RE-UNITED COUNTRY / – VERITAS VINCIT –
Additional information about the history of the monument can be found here.
It’s not clear whether these incidents will continue with the same frequency. At some point the city of Charlotte will be forced to decide whether it is worth appropriating funds for the maintenance of this monument, including fencing and other security measures. Other possibilities include removal to a safer location, which appears to be what city officials in Rockville, Maryland have decided.
I have to admit that I am torn in this particular case given the content of the monument. Let me be clear that laws covering public vandalism should be enforced, but this also needs to be seen as a political act in response to the murder of nine people by an individual who hoped to start a race war and who identified closely with Confederate iconography. The act is part of a vibrant and emotional national discussion about the place of these monuments on public ground. What we have in this particular case are competing claims on how the Civil War ought to be remembered in this community.
Many will disagree with the methods utilized here, but it fits comfortably in our nation’s long history of civil disobedience. It’s one that I believe we can handle, especially if it leads to a productive discussion about how communities remember their collective pasts.