Yesterday, Gothamist revealed that there were two busts of Confederate generals at the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at Bronx Community College during a search across the city following the aftermath of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend.
This is not up for debate, at least on a rational level: Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson are NOT great Americans to be celebrated. They are traitors in American history who defended the secession of the South and formation of the Confederacy to continue the immoral practice of slavery.
What other nation has allowed monuments to traitors of our country to go up unchallenged?
And in a borough of immigrants and people of color, the fact that these vestiges of racist pride still exist here in The Bronx is a slap in the face to any one with basic moral and ethical tenants guiding their lives.
I mean come on, this is THE ORIGINAL Hall of Fame and the inspiration for all subsequent hall of fames we know today and dates back to its 1901 dedication at was then New York University and it remained an NYU campus until 1973.
Of course there are those who says they are a part of history and while this is true, it is not an erasure of history as those who cling to their bigotry argue. It is merely taking them down from public places and having them put where they belong if the populace so chooses: In a museum.
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said it best, “Clearly Confederate Army Generals are not great Americans and have no business being part of this display,” City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told Gothamist in an email according to Curbed.
After the local media storm and outcry upon the revelation that these American traitors had a place of honor in The Bronx, Bronx Community College president Thomas A Isekenegbe, PhD wrote:
“For 60 years, Bronx Community College of The City University of New York has remained committed to reflecting its values of diversity and inclusion in all of its actions and statements. Embracing difference includes creating space where all people feel respected, welcomed, and valued. To that end, we will be removing and replacing the busts of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from the Hall of Fame for Great Americans.”
No details of when they will be removed or who will replace them but at the very least, the right thing is being done.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said shortly after via Twitter, “There are many great Americans, many of them New Yorkers worthy of a spot in this great hall. These two confederates are not among them.”
In another tweet, Cuomo said, “Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson will be removed from the CUNY hall of great Americans because New York stands against racism.”
And as we said earlier, there really is no debate on this as to why we should uphold these traitors and symbols of white supremacy and neo-Nazis among the Hall of Fame of Great Americans.
Our country, our people have suffered enough under the lasting legacy of institutional racism our nation was founded upon which still permeates society to this day.
Mark Naison, PhD, professor of history and African-American studies at Fordham University told Welcome2TheBronx, “The movement to remove Confederate monuments is only one part of a much larger project making the country come to terms with the legacy of slavery, something it never has done.”
“This also involved exploring how some of our major universities were built on proceeds derived from slavery and the slavery trade ( as Fordham Grad Craig Steven Wilder did in his book “Ebony and Ivy”) exposing how prevalent slave markets were in almost every major Southern city; and creating exhibits throughout the South and the nation which explore how central slavery was to the economic development of the nation and how cruel it was in its daily functioning, especially in terms of the systematic breeding and sale of slaves.” added Dr Naison.
Oh and one more thing to serve as food for thought: No, racism will not go away if we ignore it or don’t talk about it.
As Dr Naison said, “This movement is being driven by the brilliant young race scholars who are now on the faculty of almost every university in the nation. It is not going away. It is only going to gather momentum in coming years.”