Yesterday work crews removed the letters on the Jefferson Davis Memorial Arch located at Fort Monroe in Virginia. The arch was dedicated in 1956 shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. I still find it bizarre that a memorial to Davis was placed on the very ground where he was briefly imprisoned at the end of the war.
But there is something fitting about its removal on the 400th anniversary of the introduction of the first enslaved people to Virginia.
Rather than simply remove the letters, I would recommend adding the names of Frank Baker, James Townsend and Shepard Mallory. On May 22, 1861 these three men rowed over to Fort Monroe from Hampton hoping to gain their freedom. As we all know they were designated as contraband by General Benjamin Butler, but it did begin the long and slow process of turning a war to save the Union into one that would eventually end the institution of slavery.
It would be fitting to honor these three men as opposed to a man whose efforts throughout much of his life were wrapped up in the continued enslavement of African Americans.
In related news, a monument located in Orange County, California and dedicated in 2004 has been removed. It has been vandalized numerous times in recent months. The Atlanta History Center is leading an effort to add historical markers to four Confederate monuments.