Confederacy symbols in the city under review

The city of Atlanta puts up at State of MLK on Aug. 28. Photo by Hannah Greco | The Signal

Georgia State protesters have taken to the streets to protest and memorialize the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Va.

Violence in Charlottesville ensued when white nationalists began protests in a “Unite the Right” rally that lasted from Aug. 11 to 12 to protest the city’s plans to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general during the Civil War, from Emancipation Park. Counter-protesters met the rally on that Friday and the fighting began.

On Aug. 19 the Ronald J. Freeman Chapter of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) at Georgia State took part in the “Georgia Resists: Take Down White Supremacy” march. BLSA president Roland Turner said that the groups attending the march wanted to demonstrate that Atlanta has no place for hate.

“In my opinion, their mission was to send a message to Georgia and to America that hate will not thrive in Atlanta,” Turner said. “They wanted to send the message that the members of the community can come together at a moment’s notice to denounce the hate and bigotry when they see it.”

Georgia State Professor and the founder and coordinator of the African-American Studies department Jacqueline Rouse said that it is the nature of people to fight for what they believe is theirs and that is why there is a spur of white marches.

“Our society created these issues before they got how they are now. White has always been superior and black inferior. People feel entitled; therefore, they feel the need to fight for what they feel is theirs,” Rouse said.

Georgia State student and president of the Black Student Alliance LaShanah Thomas said it is unlikely that white supremacist marches will come to Atlanta.

“The riot would probably happen in Georgia but not Atlanta. People wouldn’t bring it here. If it was brought on campus, it wouldn’t happen. If you’re a white supremacist and you choose to come here, I don’t understand you. If it does happen, I want to see that,” Thomas said.

Mayor Kasim Reed announced in a press release on Aug. 18 that he is assembling a panel to consider changing Atlanta street names associated with the Confederacy. Potential candidates for the name change include Holtzclaw Street, Estoria Street, Calhoun Street and Confederate Avenue.

“To do this, we will assemble a group of advisors to recommend a process for our community to determine the future of each street name and marker,” Reed stated in the press release. “We want to ensure that we approach this endeavor in a thoughtful matter.”

However, Georgia State student Nalin Singh said he doesn’t think that renaming the streets is necessary.

“We shouldn’t erase American history unless it was done intentionally to ‘preserve white heritage,’” Singh said.

Singh said displaying Confederacy symbols in public wouldn’t send a good message to the surrounding community. Instead, he would prefer Confederate symbols to be contextualized in museums where the public could learn about the history of those symbols.

“We can’t let history be forgotten, but there [is] a proper place to display such things,” Singh said.