The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has thrust America into a period of racial awakening once again. The nation looked on in horror as Floyd died, pleading for air with a police officer who was kneeling on his neck for nearly 9 minutes.
The scene was too gruesome to ignore, and too grim to represent who we believed that we were as citizens of this great nation. We couldn’t reconcile liberty and justice for all with footage we saw of Floyd’s last moments, and in the ensuing weeks we have made some major adjustments to the way we decorate our country, if nothing else.
One of the most visible aspects of this recompense has come in the removal of Confederate statues and memorials from the public arena. In some cities, the sculptures and plaques were taken down by angry mobs, in other municipalities, the local government got to them before the vandals could.
Now, in the case of several Confederate statues housed within the US Capitol in Washington DC, the House of Representatives is taking action.
The House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol, the latest effort by Congress to respond to the nationwide protests over systemic racism and injustice.
The bill would remove the bust of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney from the Old Supreme Court Chamber, in the Capitol. Taney authored the Dred Scott decision in 1857, which declared African Americans couldn’t be citizens and was later widely panned. The Taney bust would be replaced with a statue of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court justice.
The legislation would also remove three statues of Americans who promoted slavery and white supremacy — Charles Aycock, John C. Calhoun, and James Paul Clarke — and require states to reclaim and replace their Confederate statues in the Capitol. There are 12 Confederate statues in the Capitol collection.
At this time, there is no telling whether or not the Senate will move forward with the bill after leaders in the higher chamber has repeatedly called for the states responsible for sending these statues to the Capitol to make the decision themselves.
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