So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “if you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32)! In American society, we like to play hard and loose with what is considered the truth and what is acceptable to discuss. The truth is that we are a nation built on systemic racism that has yet to have any reconciliation. The original sin of the Americas was the genocide of our indigenous brothers and sisters. The second sin was that of enslavement of people from a continent far away. What we saw on January 6, 2021, was nothing short of a planned attack on our Democracy. We still have people questioning the results of an election that took place over two years ago. When things don’t go our way, we as a people don’t get to change the rules midway through.
Currently, in Jacksonville, FL, there is a continued debate about the remaining Confederate monuments; what should be done with them, why are we as taxpayers supporting the upkeep of a shine to those who enslaved our ancestors, what do we do with them if/when we take it down? Some monuments were removed after the murder of George Floyd; I assume to show some solidarity with the African American community and to acknowledge the continued systemic racism we face. One of the remaining monuments is decided to “A Tribute to the Women of the Southern Confederacy,” but not all women, just those who held down the home front while their husbands went to fight for the lost cause, the Civil War. The monument is in a park that was named Confederate Park (2020) but has since had a name change to Springfield Park. The other monument is the remnants of a Confederate soldier statue in what is now known as James Weldon Johnson Park—let that sink in for a moment. James Weldon Johnson is the author of what we know to be the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The park was historically named Hemming Park after the land was donated by Civil War veteran Charles C. Hemmings. He donated the confederate monument to the park in 1899.
Interestingly enough, most monuments didn’t go up until after the failure of the “lost cause.” They are symbolic and a powerful way to express the perceived lesser value of those with darker melanin in their skin. The “A Tribute to the Women of the Southern Confederacy” was erected in 1915, 50 years after the failure of the south to maintain people as property. The City of Jacksonville paid for half of the cost of the monument, thus leading one to believe that the city was a co-conspirator in the erection of a hateful symbolic monument. Recently, the City Council of Jacksonville voted down a bill to remove the remaining two monuments, 13-6. The hate is so salient in Jacksonville that before a recent Jacksonville Jaguars game, someone flew a plane over with a Confederate Flag and a banner saying, “Put Monuments Back.”
Our nation has not had racial healing and reconciliation. We have legislators looking to rewrite history or omit certain aspects of the history of our country because it can make some people uncomfortable. If we don’t acknowledge and begin to unpack the systemic issues that continue to disproportionately impact certain communities within our society, we will never move forward as a nation.
By Dr. Tammy Hodo
 ESV Ed. 2016