Yes, Mr. President, Washington and Jefferson were slaveholders, like many wealthy landowners of that time. But less than 100 years later, President Lincoln reminded us why we must fight against slavery. In the Gettysburg Address, he spoke of this “new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” During Reconstruction, as the KKK flourished in retaliation against newly earned Black rights, we struggled again to live up to the ideals of our Founding Fathers. As Nazism and fascism swept Europe less than 100 years ago, we willingly joined in the fight against forces that would kill based upon religion, culture or sexual orientation.
Germany does not display statues of Hitler or fly the Nazi flag. It relegates reminders of this dark past to museums and places of historical reflection. We must do the same with relics of the Confederacy, recognizing that while this is a part of our history, it is a time that should not be glorified or aggrandized. We must learn from the past, not wallow in a distorted view of it.
We look to you, President Donald Trump, for words and actions which will permanently denounce white supremacy, Nazism, fascism, the KKK, the alt-right and other groups which spew hate, division and violence against any who live in these borders.