J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “Martin Luther King Jr.”

More Stone Mountain Controversy

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This weekend, several lectures are scheduled to take place at Stone Mountain outside of Atlanta, Georgia. They are in response to the recent turn of events I wrote about concerning the placement of a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. on top of the mountain. The monument, proposed by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, would be a replica of the Liberty Bell, and would be called the “Freedom Bell.” Dr. King’s infamous “I Have a Dream” speech would be included, as well as this inscription: “Let Freedom Ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.” The Stone Mountain Park Association approved the placement of the monument, but has received criticism for its decision.

The lecture series is being called “Confederate Heritage and the Fracturing of American Identity.” It will address the issue of abolishing Confederate symbols and monuments. Many people feel that it is inappropriate to place a MLK monument on Stone Mountain, which was legally designated as a Confederate memorial years ago. I, for one, agree with this notion. If this is allowed to happen, then in all fairness, Confederate flags should be placed at every Civil Rights monument.

For more information, visit:

http://us9.campaign-archive2.com/?u=41d92968e1e10ba88ff5078a2&id=3707e03783&e=f7224046ee

http://www.wsbtv.com/ap/ap/georgia/civil-rights-groups-hope-ga-gov-will-prevent-king-/nn3T7/

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/national-international/Civil-Right-Groups-Oppose-MLK-Monument-Stone-Mountain-332539942.html

http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/stone-mountain/2015/10/14/civil-rights-leaders-governor-no-mlk-presence-stone-mountain/73955528/

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Sometimes, Showing Honor is Disrespectful

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Yesterday, the Sons of Confederate Veterans sent out a statement in response to the placement of a Martin Luther King Jr. monument on Stone Mountain in Georgia. Stone Mountain is in a predominately black area of Atlanta. The MLK statue has been proposed by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. However, this is in complete conflict with the original establishment of Stone Mountain, which was to honor the Confederacy. Although some think it would be okay to place a MLK monument on the mountain, it is completely disrespectful to the thousands who died defending their homeland during the Civil War.

“This decision by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association is wholly inappropriate in that it is an intentional act of disrespect toward the stated purpose of the Stone Mountain memorial from its inception as well as a possible violation of the law which established the Stone Mountain Memorial Association and charged it with promoting the mountain as a Confederate memorial.

“The Venable family, which owned Stone Mountain in the early 1900′s, leased the face of the mountain to the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1916 for the purpose of creating a carved memorial to the Confederacy.  The UDC contracted Gutzon Borglum, who later sculpted the Mount Rushmore carving; after the work was halted due to a disagreement with Borglum, the carving remained unfinished for several decades.  As the state began to discuss interest in reviving the memorial project as a state project, the Venable family deeded the land to the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial, Inc. in 1956.  Two years later, in 1958, the state of Georgia purchased Stone Mountain; and the General Assembly created the Stone Mountain Memorial Association expressly to maintain the mountain and all adjacent property as a Confederate memorial and complete a portion of the original design for the carving.

“The act of the General Assembly which created the Stone Mountain Memorial Association specifically states the park, including both the mountain and all adjacent property, is to be maintained and operated as a Confederate memorial (OCGA 12-3-191).   The erection of monuments to anyone other than Confederate heroes in Stone Mountain Park is in contradistinction to the purpose for which the park exists and would make it a memorial to something different.  The park was never intended to be a memorial to multiple causes but solely to the Confederacy.  Therefore, monuments to either Michael King or soldiers of any color who fought against the Confederacy would be a violation of the purpose for which the park was created and exists. The opinions of the park’s current neighbors and opponents are of no bearing in the discussion.

“Furthermore, the erection of a monument to anything other than the Confederate Cause being placed on top of Stone Mountain because of the objections of opponents of Georgia’s Confederate heritage would be akin to the state flying a Confederate battle flag atop the King Center in Atlanta against the wishes of King supporters.  Both would be altogether inappropriate and disrespectful acts, repugnant to Christian people.”

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According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “the Sons of Confederate Veterans are right about Stone Mountain.” There are plenty of places where a MLK monument can be placed, but Stone Mountain shouldn’t be one of them.

The Case for the Confederate Battle Flag

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Controversy surrounding the Confederate battle flag continues to escalate. Some feel that stashing away the flag is a solution, but I believe the flag should be reinvented as an historic symbol, rather than automatically being associated with racism. The flag has been used by certain hate groups in the past, but these groups have also used the American flag. The Stars and Stripes flew over slave ships, not the Confederate battle flag. If one element of our society is deemed offensive to particular groups, then it will inevitably lead to other banned elements. Removing the Confederate battle flag from government property and national parks is only the beginning. Certain groups are already calling for the removal of all things Confederate, including flags, school names, monuments, movies, books, and television shows. They even want to relocate Civil War soldiers’ bodies. To me, this is offensive, and it is also censorship. Although I understand how the flag might upset some people, to others, it is a sign of Southern pride and heritage. Either way, censoring items doesn’t do away with deeper issues.

Passing laws to remove the Confederate battle flag might seem like a perfect remedy, but in reality, it doesn’t accomplish anything. Racists will still find a symbol to use. People will still lay blame on inanimate objects, instead of blaming the true source of hate. Guns, flags, and photographs don’t commit atrocities. People do. That is why we need to change our attitudes toward these objects, or it will lead to far worse consequences down the road. I’m sure there are people who are offended by the Nazi flag, the Japanese flag, the rainbow flag, or whatever. If one flag is done away with, then all the others should be, too, including the American flag. It flew while thousands of Native American Indians were being slaughtered, after all. And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of Stone Mountain, Mount Rushmore, every statue in Washington D.C., and any reminder of Confederate soldiers or slave owners, including our founding fathers. Let’s rename all the streets, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s namesakes, because it’s only fair.

By taking away our symbols, this country is denying our freedom of speech and expression. In a recent Newsmax poll, 88% wanted to keep Confederate flags on government property. And in the small town of Gettysburg, South Dakota, the police chief has fallen under scrutiny for deciding not to change the officers’ uniform patches, which depict the American and Confederate flags crossing over a cannon.

Of course, someone will be offended by something sometime. I’m offended by numerous things, like those mud flaps with nude females on them and sexist lyrics in songs. But to deny their use is going against our Constitutional rights. As U.S. citizens, we need to take a stand against allowing this issue to elevate further, or we will end up having complete government rule, and that is exactly what Southerners fought against during the Civil War.

My upcoming novel, A Rebel Among Us, a novel of the Civil War, discusses this topic in-depth. It delves into the lives of two people – one from the North, and one from the South. Their opinions and differences repeatedly collide, making their relationship all the more compelling and complicated.

As it was in the past, we are facing these same conflicts today. We are one country with many different attitudes and backgrounds, which makes us diverse and unique. To take away just one element of expression opens us up to complete censorship and governmental control in the future.

Banning the Confederate Flag (Again)

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Recently, another incident has arisen in regard to flying the Confederate flag. This time, the flags in question are on display at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. The institution was originally known as Washington College, but General Robert E. Lee served as president after the Civil War until the time of his death in 1870. That’s when his name was added to the name of the college.

Now twelve law students at the university, who refer to themselves as “The Committee,” have demanded that the president, Ken Ruscio, remove the flags from campus. The only flags that are on display are inside General Lee’s chapel. The students have issued four demands, and promise to engage in civil disobedience if their terms are not met by September.

1. We demand that the University fully recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the undergraduate campus.

2. We demand that the University stop allowing neo-confederates to march on campus with confederate flags on Lee-Jackson Day.

3. We demand that the University immediately remove all confederate flags from its property and premises, including those flags located within Lee Chapel.

4. We demand that the University issue an official apology for the University’s participation in chattel slavery, including a denunciation of General Robert E. Lee’s participation in slavery.

The law students also added this statement:

We expect that from these immediate actions, a long-term, continued commitment to improving the state of racial justice and honor on campus will develop. We believe the student body is eager to learn about, work toward and directly confront both the past and current bigotry and racial discrimination found on our campus. We are confident that when these demands are met, our University will be one step closer to achieving a community that welcomes students of color and frees them from the psychological shackles that currently exist. We are eager to turn our campus into a shining example—a beacon of hope—for not only the town of Lexington, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the South, but for the entire nation.

I find this entire issue to be preposterous. “The Committee” claims that the University is racist, but I think they are actually the ones who are racists. Lee was a man of his time who honored his state, and to alleviate the flags from the chapel where he is buried is disrespectful, to say the least. Instead of being offended, these students should worry about their grades. Changing history by eradicating things they deem offensive because they fail to understand, and have failed to do their homework, is alarming. Is this what our country has to look forward to? Lee Chapel is on the Register of Historic Places. Should we disregard everything that only a few find incommodious? If it starts with Confederate flags placed on the graves of its commanders, where will it end? And by denying reenactors to honor their hero by marching on campus is refusing their constitutional rights. Any law student should know that.

The debate continues. To read others’ opinions on the matter, please visit:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/16/washington–lee-confederate_n_5161367.html

 

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