What the Statue Debate Means for The United States

Open Access
Smith, David
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Dr. Daniel Letwin, Thesis Supervisor
  • Dr. Kathryn Salzer, Honors Advisor
  • Robert E. Lee
  • Civil War
  • Statue
  • NFL
  • Colin Kaepernick
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Mitch Landrieu
  • New Orleans
  • Jefferson Davis
  • Lee Circle
  • Tivoli Circle
  • Reconstruction
This thesis is a summary of how Confederate statues relate to the memory of the Civil War within American society. The debate on what should be done with these statues represents a significant cleavage within the United States. The divisions caused by this debate tie into much larger issues, including systemic racism, police brutality, freedom of speech, and the kneeling protests in the NFL. The existence of these statues serves as a callback to a culture that many people continue to be proud of, yet to others a daily reminder of the oppression that they and their ancestors faced. Should we as a society act to take down or alter these statues? By doing so, are we exacerbating the problems that these statues cause, or are we laying the groundwork for true long-term healing? How should we teach the history of these statues, the people they depict, and the beliefs that they held? And finally, should figures like Robert E. Lee be held to a different standard than the rest of the Confederacy?