Confederate History Must Be Preserved, Not Erased: Washington Delegate

September 3, 2020 Updated: September 28, 2020

Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-D.C.) said in a written statement on Wednesday that Confederate history in D.C. should be recognized and not forgotten, while monuments in public places should reflect the values of D.C. residents.

“All our statues and public places, whenever they were placed, tell the story of our city. They must be preserved to assure that story and history are complete. At the same time, to forego any notation of Confederate or slave affiliation is inexcusably incomplete and ahistorical,” Norton said in a written statement. “We must acknowledge all our history, not become complicit in erasing it.”

Norton told The Epoch Times that the Confederate statues must be preserved in museums so history is available for citizens to learn from.

Norton, who introduced the bill for D.C.’s statehood, believes the residents of the district should have a voice in Congress and have a hand in determining what street names and monuments are erected in their city.

“Most important, for most of its 219 years as a city, the District has had no self-government. Unlike other jurisdictions, the residents of this city had no say in the names given or in the placement of statues,” Norton said.

The topic of Confederate monuments has become a hot button topic since the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died after a police officer restrained him with a knee to his neck for almost 8 minutes. The killing of Floyd ignited protests calling for racial justice in America.

Since May, some of the protests have become violent, and led to the vandalism and toppling of Confederate statues. Democrat lawmakers have remained largely silent in response to the forced takedown of statues but Republicans have been vocal about not allowing violent rioters to destroy property, public or private, including Confederate statues.

Norton has initiated many efforts to have statues in the District of Columbia removed through a peaceful and legal process, including the recently toppled Albert Pike statue.

“General Albert Pike was probably the worst of the memorialized Confederates,” Norton said. “He slaughtered Union troops, a war crime, stole funds and was captured by his own troops. His statue should be preserved in a museum, where it can be properly interpreted.”

Norton introduced a bill seeking the removal of the Pike statue in October 2017. But it stalled after being handed off to the Subcommittee on Federal Lands. She reintroduced the bill last summer.

Norton told the Epoch Times that she “strongly opposes vandalism and the toppling of statues” because she thinks they should not be marred and must be preserved to tell the important story of the history of the United States.

In late June, when protesters attempted to topple a statue of former Democratic President Andrew Jackson near the White House and the Emancipation Memorial of former Republican President Abraham Lincoln, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) condemned the violence and toppling of statues.

“Whether it is a monument of Abraham Lincoln freeing the slave or of four of our greatest presidents, Democrats no longer view the richness of our country’s history worthy. Not only do they want to erase our past, but they also want to radically change the way we live today. The mobs that Democrats encourage destroy property,” said McCarthy.

Contrary to McCarthy’s sentiment, Norton has a different view and is introducing a bill to remove the Emancipation Statue, a sculpture of Abraham Lincoln with a freed slave at his feet, from Lincoln Park.

Norton told The Epoch Times that the Emancipation Memorial is a “reflection of its time.”

“The designers of the Emancipation Statue in Lincoln Park in D.C. didn’t take into account the views of African Americans,” Norton wrote in a Tweet. “It shows. Blacks too fought to end enslavement. That’s why I’m introducing a bill to move this statue to a museum.”

Norton said in June that she is also seeking the removal of the Andrew Jackson statue at Lafayette Square, which stands across the street from the White House.

As the country’s seventh president, Jackson owned over 100 slaves and passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, leading to the Trail of Tears.

“This prominent location in the nation’s capital, right outside of the White House, should never have honored a man who owned slaves and was responsible for the deaths of roughly 4,000 Native Americans,” Norton said. “Jackson’s entire tenure is a shameful part of our history, and I will see to it that he is no longer honored with a statue in Lafayette Park.”

Norton told The Epoch Times she wants the statues and monuments that are in D.C.’s public spaces to reflect the values of the residents and those appointed to represent them in Congress.