Ken Burns: Many Confederate Monuments Are ‘All About the Reimposition of White Supremacy’

Friday on MSNBC’s “MTP Daily,” filmmaker Ken Burns said many Confederate monuments were “all about the reimposition of white supremacy” after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision causing the desegregation of public schools.

Burns said, “There is a professor — Barbara Fields — from Columbia University, and she says the civil war is still going on. Not only still going on, but it can also still be lost. Regrettably, it can still be lost … We haven’t resolved this the question of race.”

He continued, “So the monuments is a big deal and we have to understand it. First thing is, just check the date that monument went up. If it’s the 1880s and ’90s, take it down. It’s all about the reimposition of white supremacy. When we say the south and my heritage, remember in a 1861, 9 million people in the south. Four million are slaves. They are not interested in monuments to the Confederacy, a disloyal thing. Remember, the Confederacy is responsible for more loyal American deaths than Hitler or Tojo. We’re celebrating who our government considered traitors, who were never recognized, the Confederate States of America. The official name of the United  States government, what we call the Civil War, was the War of the Rebellion. We were suppressing a rebellion. So, there’s lots of monuments put up then, and at that point, the Dixie flag, not the flag of the Confederacy, but one battle flag of Northern Virginia went into Mississippi. Then it went into all of the other flags in the South in 1954. Now what happened in 1954, Chuck, that would have caused them — to have a reactive thing to suggest -”

He added, “The  Supreme Court decision that triggered the white supremacists. This is not talking about taking away our heritage.What we need to do as Americans, we need to stop the dialectic about it and realize we can expand. Charleston understands this. This was this lily-white city that was tourism for the Antebellum stuff, they have included African-Americans in the narrative and it’s thriving as ever before. You pull back the camera. We’re not cutting out of your history, we just want to includes other histories. Don’t want to portray blacks as passive bystanders to the Civil War but active, dedicated self-sacrificing soldiers in another war of self-liberation. It’s a good story. And you could just add it on.”

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