The slaughter in the Charleston church has prompted a Twitter discussion under hashtags #capturetheflag and #takedowntheflag which generates the ancient debate of whether confederate symbols are racist or benignly historic.
Arizona has its own Confederate symbol very close to the state capitol grounds in Phoenix – a monument to Confederate troops erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1961, in the midst of a centuries-old effort by African Americans to gain their civil rights. That year, The US Commission on Civil Rights came out with another scathing report on unconstitutional policing in the South, as well as lynchings and murders of blacks by whites.
I came across Arizona’s Confederate monument at the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, near the state capitol area in Phoenix, in 2010. I was covering civil rights protests by Latinos and their friends who objected to unconstitutional policing and unconstitutional laws in Arizona.
Given the context, the monument was a slapping stinging metaphor.
Why do we have such a monument praising Confederate soldiers in faraway Arizona? Because part of Arizona was once part of the Confederacy. Because at one point in Arizona history, a wave of southern migrants settled in the territory because they wanted to escape the poverty and devastation of their homeland, just like today’s modern migrants. The southerners brought their culture with them. Only, in Arizona they segregated and lynched Mexicans. Their descendants erected the monument ostensibly because there was a teeny battle between the North and the South in Arizona. But really, what does the monument symbolize?
Look at our history and judge for yourself whether the #capturetheflag and #takedowntheflag monument in Phoenix attests to a racist legacy that still lingers today.