Knowing statues’ legacy is important: Professor


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A continued hot topic not only in Kentucky but across the nation the removal of confederate monuments and flags in public spaces, some states and communities have chosen to move statues to locations with historical context while others have removed them all together.

Amy Murrell Taylor, T. Marshall Hahn Jr. Professor of History at the University of Kentucky says, “I teach American history. Particularly in the 19th century so the civil war, slavery reconstruction, are subjects of a number of my courses that I teach so I really delve into a lot of this difficult history that we’re talking about today.”

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On Monday, Jalen Lee posted this video on his Facebook page, showing confrontation between him and a woman over the removal of a confederate statue in Anderson County. It’s an example of the heated debate across the nation.

Many of the statues were erected in the late 19th and early 20th century during an effort known as the “Lost Cause”.

”This was a movement led by descendants of confederates,” Taylor says. “Led in particular by an organization called the United Daughters of the Confederacy who were determined to pull out what you might say was a victory for white southern culture out of what had been a military defeat.”

Taylor says the monuments were meant to express pride in their confederate heritage.

”But it’s important to note that they were put up at a time when the same white southern people were also erecting segregation laws, were taking the vote away from African American people or later in the 20th century were resisting the civil rights movement,” Taylor says.

She says this “Lost Cause” movement was very much a part of the Jim Crow south and it was really doing the cultural work of protecting and preserving white supremacy.

It’s that very legacy that has sparked the current debates for those who want the statues removed.