Civil War Museum CEO provides Civil War statuary debate insight

Jan 17, 2018

Christy S. Coleman, CEO Civil War Museum

The Civil War came to an end more than 150 years ago. Today, communities are debating the preservation or removal of Civil War monuments.

Christy S. Coleman is CEO of the American Civil War Museum. As a guest of Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and its Division of Inclusion and Equity, Coleman presented “How Shall We Remember?”

“Around this conversation, this debate, about confederate statuary in particular, part of the challenge is that we have to unpack when they’re put up and why?”

During her four years as CEO of the American Civil War Museum, Christy S. Coleman is witnessing communities reconciling history.

“The early 1890’s through about 1905 and this is the period that’s more problematic, this is the period where a lot of confederate statuary in particular are being placed in the public square, in front of the courthouse, in front of the city hall, and they are placed there with a very real message to the newly freed, and the franchised, meaning the right to vote, getting land, building businesses, to this African American population. And the message is white supremacy will reign no matter what. And when that happens in those spaces, when you now show up and you’re expected to vote, one person is looking at that statue one way and one person is looking at that statue another way.”

A number of communities across the country are now deciding if confederate statuary should remain or be removed because they fail to represent contemporary values or if they should be relocated for educational purposes.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.