The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to remove statues of white supremacists and Confederate leaders advocating slavery from the United States Capitol.
The vote went from 285 to 120 with all Democrats present and 67 Republicans voting in favor of the legislation, which mandates the removal of “all statues of individuals who voluntarily served in the Confederate States of America or the military forces or government of a state while the state rebelled against the United States ”.
Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, said honoring these men sent a message to the United States Capitol that black lives are not valued.
“Personally, as a black man, it is an affront to me to walk and look at these figures and see them upright, looking out like visionaries and doing something that was great. No, they did something that was very harmful to humanity, ”Johnson said.
The legislation specifically calls for the removal of statues of three men who supported slavery and segregation: the governor of North Carolina. Charles Aycock, Vice President John Calhoun and Senator from Arkansas James Clarke.
He also orders the replacement of a bust of Roger Taney, who owned enslaved people and wrote the 1857 supreme court decision that denied enslaved people citizenship. The bust would be replaced by one of Thurgood Marshall, who became the first black supreme court judge in 1967 and who previously won a landmark supreme court case saying school segregation was unconstitutional, Brown v. Board of Education .
Some Republicans in the debate noted that Democrats represented the South during the civil war. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, said he supported the bill, but emphasized that “all the statues that are removed with this bill are statues of Democrats.”
A similar bill passed the House last year, but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky declined to put the measure to a vote. He’s more likely to run for the Senate now that Democrats have a slim majority. For the legislation to be successful, 10 Republican senators would have to vote in favor with every Democrat because of the obstructionist rule.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, reintroduced the legislation in May, saying, “It is never too late to do the right thing, and this legislation would work to correct a historic mistake and ensure that our Capitol reflects the principles and ideals of what Americans stand for. “
Most Confederate monuments were placed decades after the Civil War, according to a data base created by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The period that saw the greatest increase in the creation of these statues was in the 1900s, when southern states enacted Jim Crow laws limiting the rights of blacks after a period of integration.
The push to remove Confederate symbols from public places has been going on for decades and increased last year during the civil rights protests. In 2020, at least 160 Confederate symbols were removed or removed from public spaces, according to the SPLC database.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism