Civil war explains historical context of Confederate statue locations

Monuments don’t grow out of the ground; they each have the story of their own origins
Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 9:19 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - With ongoing efforts due to racial unrest across the state and country to remove and replace statues honoring the Confederacy, the next step is where to put them.

“Every monument tells two stories: the story of who it’s about, and the story of who put it there.”

Gerald Prokopowicz

The Jim Crow era marks the early part of the 20th century when laws were not applied equally to Black Americans.

According to Civil War expert Gerald Prokopowicz, that's when statues were placed in prominent locations like courthouses to emphasize who held political power during the era.

“The placement of these memorials not in cemeteries or sites of memory, not on battlefields, but in places of law and political power, especially courthouses, was a clear signal that these monuments were intended to send a political message,” he said.

In places like Pitt County, who sent troops to both sides, Prokopowicz says the absence of a union monument spoke volumes.

“It was not intended…to remember the boys from Pitt County, it was intended to remember just the confederate boys, sending the message that this was the philosophy that controlled the politics of Pitt County in 1914.

Prokopowicz is on the committee in charge of relocating the county's statue, and while they haven't decided on a location yet, he says they are considering politically neutral locations where the history of the monuments can be studied.

“Monuments don’t grow out of the ground; they each have the story of their own origins. And now we’re starting to think about those stories and responding to them.”

Officials in both Rocky Mount and Kinston also made decisions Thursday to remove and relocate Confederate statues.

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