As we end Women’s History Month, let’s take a moment to look at some of the things that are being commemorated in April.
In April, we raise awareness about plenty of worthy causes, including autism awareness, alcohol awareness, financial literacy, cancer, and prevention of cruelty to animals.
However, one commemoration stands out.
Confederate History Month is celebrated in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and, most notably given recent events, Florida. The Confederacy was a declared enemy nation of the United States and existed for four years. The rationale given is that Confederate History Month is a way to honor and preserve Southern cultural heritage. But isn’t it really a celebration of slavery and racism? How can Florida defend this, given the dictum that school subjects should not cause offense or create bad feelings? The Confederacy was founded on the principles of slavery and white supremacy. Not everyone has the luxury of choosing to remember it as some sort of cultural heritage.
Moreover, how can Confederate History Month be observed without acknowledging the role that slavery played in the Confederacy’s founding? By banning African American studies and trying to suppress any accurate discussion of history, Florida is trying to ignore and dismiss the contributions of African Americans and other marginalized groups to the Civil War, as well as avoid confronting the ways in which Confederate symbols have been used to promote racism and discrimination in the present day.
Ultimately, there is no way to remember the Confederacy and its legacy without contending with its oppression and racism. As we continue to come to grips with these difficult issues, it is important that we approach those who may disagree with us with sensitivity, empathy, and a commitment to understanding their perspectives. But that requires a full accounting of our history, including the true history of what really happened before, during, and since the Confederacy.