Imagine the U.S. capitol’s austere statuary that holds monuments of the great men that built this nation. However, some of them are no longer considered great men.
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Statues of Confederate Soldiers, Congressmen who supported slavery and segregation, and downright white supremacists litter the south. But can we say litter? Can the work of these men and their willingness to chase their beliefs be forgotten? This is the debate that rages on- especially in the American South. I find that as times change and there is more respect for all cultures, the way we honor our history changes. History cannot undergo censure or erasure; that is simply regressive. However, we can change our customs as we explore the hurt these monuments may cause due to their racist nature, cultural intolerance, or symbolism of unprincipled ideals that work against the advancement of mankind. An example of this would be the statue of John Aycock in the U.S. Capitol Building.
Aycock was North Carolina’s Education Governor. In addition to that, he was also a self-proclaimed white supremacist and segregationist. He robbed Blacks of their right to vote and was famous for his speech dubbed The Negro Problem.. Aycock worked tirelessly to stop the Black vote. He also implemented and stressed that Whites control North Carolina’s public education system as to keep Blacks exactly where the White supremacists wanted them to be. In his speech The Negro Problem Aycock boasts,
“”I am proud of my State…because there we have solved the negro problem…We have taken him out of politics and have thereby secured good government..
He then revels in what he believes to be the bravado of his activism as he continued disenfranchising the Black community. He compares the Black persons’ search for equality to a search for death. His political career was wholly based around deep-rooted racism, and he displayed that in every decision he made.
The history of John Aycock’s life is only the beginning of why his statue now faces scrutiny. His image is symbolic of the racism and prejudice southern Blacks faced every day throughout the history of America. Even now, the children of this generation will view these men, like Aycock, as catalysts of slavery,
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