Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill into law on Wednesday which extends protections over confederate monuments in response to a recent uptick in removal of the monuments in other states.
The law now prohibits local governments in the state from removing monuments that have been in place for 40 or more years, a ban which is intended to protect confederate monuments, the only ones currently being scrutinized.
The legislation Ivey signed was sponsored by State Senator Gerald Allen, a Republican. Allen argued that the law was intended to protect all of Alabama’s history, not just Confederate monuments.
“Contrary to what its detractors say, the Memorial Preservation Act is intended to preserve all of Alabama’s history — the good and the bad — so our children and grandchildren can learn from the past to create a better future.”
The law was signed into law directly in response to the removal of monuments in New Orleans, a decision made by the city council and defended by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. That decision was met with significant protest, and the various monuments were removed overnight in order to reduce conflict.
As Landrieu explained in a speech given last week, though protectors of these monuments argue “history” is their motivation for preservation, many of the statues and plaques they are legislating to protect were put into place several decades after the Civil War and were enacted by revisionist, racist organizations who sought to glorify the leaders of the Confederacy.
Landrieu also made a stirring reflection on the situation by noting that despite flaunting “history” as their motivation, these southern cities had no monuments to slavery or to the suffering of black people under decades of oppression. Where is the historical note for the number of black lives that were ended at the whim of slave drivers? Where is the testament to the contributions black bodies made to industry in the South before the war? Where is the “history” of the parts of the South many would prefer to forget?
Those leading Alabama seem far too concerned with wrapping protective arms around a few cold statues that represent regression and division. These comments from the New Orleans Mayor would do well to be read to all the officials in Alabama who supported this legislation, and to Governor Ivey who signed it.