How many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
How many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind
I’ve been thinking a lot about the controversy surrounding US Monuments, particularly those representing the Confederacy. On one side there is a cry to remove them; on another side there is a cry to allow them to remain. Then, there’s the group, that may be found on either side that says, “It doesn’t matter whether the statues are removed or not, what’s in my heart is there to stay.”
And that’s what is most important about monuments. A monument reflects your heart; What you endear, cherish, long for, hope to become. If we really endear, cherish, aspire and treasure freedom and equality for all people, regardless of skin color, level of education, or family origin, then our monuments should portray true facts about American History.
Have you ever wondered why there are no monuments honoring Nat Turner, Josiah Henson, Alexander Kelly, George Jordan, or Spottswood Rice, just to name a few? These are a few of the great American heroes, because they fought for the freedoms of the nation for all people. But there is no mention of them in history books, no schools named after them, no monuments to cherish.
After WWII, Nazi symbols were ordered demolished. Any creation of Nazi symbols or propaganda was strictly banned. A decree was made that read, “Any monument, memorial, poster, statue, edifice, street or highway name marker, emblem, tablet, or insignia which tends to preserve and keep alive the German military tradition, to revive militarism or to commemorate the Nazi Party, or which is of such a nature as to glorify incidents of war, and the erection, installation, or posting or other display on a building or other structure of any of the same, will be prohibited and declared illegal.”
But the Confederate flag, a symbol of White Supremacy, was proudly displayed at sporting events, businesses and state capitals until recently. Mississippi is the only state which flies the Confederate flag. I’m sure you heard that Walmart denied entrance into their establishment because they were wearing a swastika face-mask. I’ve visited many cities and there are many monuments of great people but very few people of color.
So let’s be truthful, there are no monuments to Black heroes because America doesn’t really desire to be the land of the free or the home of the brave. It remains a privilege for those who’ve maintained oppression and dominance over others for decades. Perhaps that’s why we cling to our monuments, because they prove our dominance, even if evil.
The late John Robert Lewis, American politician and civil-rights leader who served the United States House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district for 33 years, helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, led the march from Selma to Montgomery across the Edmund Pettis Bridge while being attacked by Alabama police and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, will be laid to rest this week. Millions around the globe will pause to honor him. But there are others who choose not to see his accomplishments. They will cry out for the retention and honor of the Confederacy and its flag instead of recognizing one who stood non-violently for the freedoms of all people, particularly Black people. They will stand and declare the wonderful deeds they’ve done for an under-privilege people, will not stand in silence to acknowledge a member of that group they boast of serving. They will call evil good (“There were some good people on both sides”) while denying the good that has eradicated evil. They will speak of the convicted as “people of honor and dignity” but will shun those who have acted on the conviction of righteousness and equality.
So the question, “How many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?” remains before us. Our freedom is denied, and our existence is limited. And to the question, “How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?” also remains. Until there’s a heart change, I mean a real change of ideology, philosophy and a positive construction of truth and justice…the answer is Blowin’ In the Wind.