You would think that given everything we’ve overcome as a nation in terms of race relations, something as simple as eradicating statues of racist Confederate leaders of the past would be no problem. However, for one woman residing in Florence, Alabama, her efforts to rid the city’s courthouse of a Confederate-inspired marble statue called Eternal Vigil have seen little to no results.
However, her drive to push forward is both a testament to how far we’ve come while also being a prime example of how far we have left to go.
Camille Bennett has been working to remove, or at least relocate, the race-sensitive statue since launching the nonprofit Project Say Something in 2014, with New York Post detailing in a report that she’s received everything from threats and violent online messages to intimidation attempts.
See below for a brief breakdown of some adversities Bennett has come across in her pursuit towards making Alabama a little less prejudice, via NYP:
“There was the suggestion from a white pastor that somebody wire her mouth shut; then there was the time a white motorcyclist sped towards her and two boys during a racial justice march last summer, telling her to “get the fuck out the way.”
Bennett has always received pushback for her activism in her small conservative community, but she says her most harrowing experience happened in 2017, when five Ku Klux Klansmen (KKK) in hoods and robes heckled her at a local park during a LGBT Pride event she’d been asked to address.”
Camille’s county has unfortunately turned down her proposal to both relocate Eternal Vigil to a Confederate cemetery and/or erect next to it a statue of enslaved Florence man and Supreme Court icon Dred Scott. The former proposition was refused by five members of the Lauderdale County Commission — they’re all white Republican men, in case you were wondering — by citing a 2017 state law which prohibits the removal or relocation of monuments.
That last statement alone will tell you all you need to know about how current laws are used to keep racism alive and kicking. Florence elected mayor Andy Betterton and members of the county commission say their hands are tied because of the civil lawsuit, but he’s also quoted as saying, “The removal and relocation of the statue is definitely one of my priorities and I feel optimistic that we will see it removed.” We’ll see.
As always, let us know your thoughts on this topic after getting all the facts in.
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