Human Relations News

Human Relations - January 28, 2019

At their meeting Thursday, Jan. 24, the members of the Human Relations Commission unanimously approved the following statement, written by members of the commission, regarding the Confederate monument in downtown Winston-Salem:

Statement on the Removal of the 4th Street Confederate Monument
Winston-Salem Human Relations Commission
January 28, 2019

In accordance with our role of studying issues of discrimination and advising the Winston-Salem City Council on how we can best promote a culture of equity and inclusion throughout the City, the Winston-Salem Human Relations Commission ("WSHRC") expresses our strong support for the position of the Mayor and the City in calling for the immediate removal of the Confederate monument located at 4th Street and Liberty.

From its dedication in 1905 to the present day, the Confederate monument at the old courthouse has served as a symbol of oppression, subjugation, and intimidation of persons of color in our City. The monument at 4th Street and Liberty declares that Confederate soldiers served as heroes. However, the WSHRC can find no heroism in this cause, nor can it find any heroism in the white supremacist ideology behind the monument’s original construction. In our perspective, this Confederate monument has served the purpose of perpetuating a historical fiction, which whitewashes the brutality of the Confederacy and ignores the true toll its legacy has had on African-American citizens and our national consciousness.

Memorializing the Confederate soldier, next to a public square, deliberately perpetuates the myth that the Southern cause in the Civil War was just and that slavery was nothing more than a necessary, perhaps even benevolent, institution. To members of the WSHRC, it is clear that this cause was unjust and that the institution of slavery was abusive, cruel, and inhumane.

Through the removal of this symbol of oppression and subjugation, it is our hope that our City can continue on the journey of racial reconciliation for the benefit of all of our citizens and residents. Winston-Salem is a dynamic and diverse city that is growing in many powerful ways. In this process of growth, we need to ensure that we plant our feet firmly on the authentic side of history and create an environment where all of our citizens and residents can live and thrive in spaces advancing inclusion and equity.

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