In the wake of the hate-fueled white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Va., our local State Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) is renewing Senate Joint Resolution 15, which he originally presented last year calling on the U.S. Congress and the president to remove symbols honoring Confederate political and military leaders from federal public buildings and parks.
"The sight of people carrying torches, swastika banners and Confederate flags -- rallying against the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee -- was a reminder that we have so much more to do to bring Americans together," Glazer said in a statement announcing the resolution renewal last week.
"Any movement that includes Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists needs to be treated as a threat to our long-held principles of diversity, equality and opportunity for all," he added.
We stand by Glazer in his renewed call.
The movement to remove Confederate monuments gained traction after a photo was published showing Dylann Roof, the perpetrator of a deadly 2015 shooting in a black church in Charleston, S.C., posing with a Confederate flag.
The Southern Poverty Law Center recently reported there are more than 700 monuments commemorating the Confederacy in the United States, with most being in the states that made up the Confederacy, and none being found in California. The report also shows more than 1,500 places and highways honoring the Confederacy or its leaders in the U.S.-- including the Jefferson Davis Highway that runs through Southern California -- and more than 100 schools.
Thanks to Sen. Glazer, there are two fewer schools on this list.
In 2015, Glazer authored a bill that proposed banning state public buildings, parks, schools, highways or roads from being named in honor of Confederate leaders, and requiring their removal from any existing public places. The bill was approved by both legislative houses and vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who cited local control concerns.
However, Glazer and others implored two school districts in Southern California to remove Robert E. Lee's name from their elementary schools, which they did. He also reached out at that time to the mayor of North Coast city Fort Bragg, but the residents there wouldn't consider changing the name of the city then -- or now.
These monuments paying homage to Civil War generals were primarily installed decades after the Civil War during the "Jim Crow era" of state and local laws regarding racial segregation in the South. The timing speaks more of intimidation than honor or even education.
Earlier this year, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer voted against removing the Lee statue that sparked the protest Aug. 12, but he has since changed his mind, calling statues of Civil War generals "twisted totems."
"You are changing history," President Donald Trump said when speaking of the removal of Confederate monuments last week.
Removing these statues and symbols is not changing history; it is denouncing the ideology of the Confederacy, which, unfortunately, lingers and is as destructive now as when the monuments were installed.
We agree with Glazer that, "A full discussion of the Civil War and Confederate military and political leaders should be included in our history books," as he said in his statement.
But a place of honor is not appropriate for these symbols. A museum is a better alternative, where they can be used to educate about a shameful part of America's past. While these symbols remain in front of our public buildings and in our parks and city centers, the malice that created the Confederacy is a present danger, not history.