COLUMBUS, Ga. — America is setting a trend and questions are starting to rise, whether Columbus will follow suit or not.
In the wake of the deadly South Carolina church shooting, dozens of confederate monuments have been removed across the US.
The city of Hanceville, Alabama is working to obtain the confederate monuments, from New Orleans what were recently removed. Meantime, historians in Columbus are weighing in on the Salisbury marker and a local confederate monument. While other say, the two are painful reminders, historians say they’re too rich to throw away.
Dylann Roof, the convicted shooter in the assault on the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, left nine people dead in June of 2015.
“He shot the Pastor, he shot all the men in the church. Please come right away,” said in a 911 police recording.
Three others were also shot, but they managed to survive. Roof was sentenced to death in January of 2016. It’s been just more than two years since the deadly church shooting. Following the massacre, dozens of cities across the US removed confederate monuments. This after Roof revealed he wanted to start a race war and photos of Roof surfaced brandishing the confederate battle flag.
In Columbus, two areas with confederate ties have been a part of recent discussion. A confederate monument can be found at 720 Broadway in Uptown Columbus. The idea of it said to be credited to the Ladies Memorial Association. It’s also said to be the start of a well known US holiday, Memorial Day.
“Back in 1866 they wanted to come up with a way of memorializing their dead sons and fathers and brothers and they got together and decided they couldn’t really afford to do anything at the time so they decided to decorate the graves with flowers,” says Daniel Bellware.
Daniel Bellware is a Columbus historian, who’s lived in the city for almost two decades. He and another author, Doctor Richard Gardinar, wrote a book on Columbus history titled, “The Genesis of the Memorial Day Holiday in America.” Bellware says the Ladies Memorial Association erected the Columbus confederate monument in 1879. Near the confederate monument is the Colonel WL Salisbury marker. Colonel Salisbury was a confederate soldier.
“I don’t think that either one of these two monuments are glorifying the slave-holding South or the Confederacy except for the fact that that’s who they both fought for,” says Bellware.
“He started the first public school,” says Dr. Victor Salazar.
Dr. Victor Salazar works at Columbus State University. He’s the director for the Ivey Center for the Cultural Approach to History. He says starting the first public school in Columbus isn’t the only thing Colonel Salisbury did for the city. Familiar with News 3 media partner, The Ledger Enquirer?
Dr. Salazar says Salisbury founded the newspaper. While Dr. Salazar and Bellware find it important to preserve the history of Columbus keeping the monument and marker up, others feel they are constant reminders of hurt, shame and pain.
“Death and destruction of African American and those people enslaved,” says Tonza Thomas.
Tonza Thomas, the President of the Columbus Chapter of the NAACP. That’s what comes to hear mind, when she hears the words confederate or confederacy. We reached out to Mayor Teresa Tomlinson to learn if there were any plans in place for Columbus to have the monument and marker removed. Tomlinson says there aren’t As to date she says she hasn’t received any complaints about the two. While standing under the confederate flag near the Riverwalk in Columbus, Thomas responded to the mayor’s answer.
“Your moral compass should say if it’s something that’s in your city and it hurts and you know it’s a part of a hatred for another culture and we are the predominant culture in Columbus, Georgia…you should just take it down,” says Thomas.
The sign on the pole of the confederate flag near the Riverwalk starts with the phrase, “usually considered the confederate flag.” Thomas says, “It is what it is. Why call the confederate flag, anything else than what it is?