By Will Portillo and Brandon Waldrop:
A movement is taking over the nation to remove statues and memorials depicting generals and soldiers who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Meanwhile, as racial and cultural tensions boil across the United States, the Amarillo College diversity committee is seeking to create unity and boost awareness.
Recently, several major cities such as Baltimore, New York City and Tampa have all moved to relocate Civil War memorials. Thoughts on this matter throughout the Amarillo College campuses vary from apathy, to adamantly against the removal, to absolutely in favor of the change.
“I don’t really care,” Marcus Johnson, a psychology major, said. Johnson said that he never even notices the Confederate flag being flown around town, adding he could not think of appropriate replacements for potentially controversial memorials in Amarillo.
Some students worry that removing the statues removes history. Thomas Burton, an engineering major, said that the Confederacy was led by “extraordinary men who happened to be on the wrong side.”
If statues must be removed, Burton suggested, “Simply leave the name. Because if someone understands what that name meant, then they don’t even need the statue.”
Burton said the Civil War caused the south to lose a lot in terms of tradition, men and land. “That’s why I’m against losing the Confederate statues.”
Students who support the removal of Confederate memorials have reasons that stretch beyond heritage. “The statues represented a cause that fought for slavery,” Abby Shaffer, a general studies major, said. She suggested removing the statues and replacing the empty pedestals with “a memorial to Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner or another person who influenced the end of slavery.”
Healing divisions like this is the goal of the AC diversity committee. “We want to bring awareness to cultural diversity and issues,” said Melodie Graves, a senior advising associate and a key member of the committee. Graves is one of eight members on this committee, which recently held a peace rally on the Washington Street Campus.
“Cultural awareness is never a bad thing to discuss,” Blake Roberts, a mass media major said.
A federal Perkins Grant funds this committee and its activities, which will include celebrations of Hispanic heritage and Black History Month.
“We are going to bring more awareness for the LBGT community, veterans and even ex-cons who are dealing with hiring issues,” Graves said. For more information about the Diversity Committee at AC, contact Graves at 806-371-5995.