SYMBOLS MATTER:

Rev. Earle J. Fisher, Special to The New Tri-State Defender | 8/24/2017, 11:27 a.m.
Why we must remove the statues of white supremacy immediately.
Memphis activist Tami Sawyer has been relentless in the quest to remove this statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest at Health Sciences Park. Forrest was the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. (Photo: Aisha Raison)

Hmph.

Symbols matter.

These statues were constructed to communicate fear and terror to people of color who were beginning to establish themselves as first-class citizens during reconstruction. The statues were intended to remind black folks of the claim that “the south shall rise again.”

Those statues are symbolic and hellish reminders of the hatred, bigotry and white supremacy that remains stitched into the fabric of our city, country and culture.

That’s exactly why we need to get them the hell out of our public spaces....by any means necessary.

And any elected official, civic leader, pastor or president who is sympathizing with white supremacy (in theory, practice, or policy) needs to get the hell out of public office.

Now is not the time for tacit diplomacy and conventional appeals to the same legal structures that offer these statues protection from the will of the majority of the people.

We must remove them immediately because we need a better vision of what our city is and ought to be.

And just so we are clear, removing the statues is not the end goal. It’s symbolic. It will represent the inevitable dismantling of the entire system of white supremacy.

And it will come down...by any means necessary.

(The Rev. Earle J. Fisher is co-spokesman for the Memphis Grassroots Organizations Coalition and pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church.)