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Anti-racism protests turn spotlight on icons of U.S. history

American history: Protesters trying to topple the statue of former President Andrew Jackson in Washington

American history: Protesters trying to topple the statue of former President Andrew Jackson in Washington   | Photo Credit: TOM BRENNER

Initial anger was directed at statues of Confederate generals

As the wave of anti-racism protests rocking the U.S. brings down monuments to figures linked to the country’s history of slavery, the spotlight is shifting to historic characters long considered untouchable.

Although protesters initially focused on removing statues of Confederate generals, the movement has begun to turn its focus to icons of U.S. history, including the nation’s founders Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and President Theodore Roosevelt.

The death of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis police custody on May 25 has sparked debate around statues and monuments honouring people central to the U.S.’ slave system, some of which have been pulled down or vandalised.

The ongoing protests are “a battle over the narrative of American history in the realm of statues,” Carolyn Gallaher, a professor at American University in Washington, told AFP.

Also read: Protesters topple Confederate general’s statue

“In the South, people decided to venerate confederates. Protesters are saying, ‘No more.’”

In Virginia, where some of the first English colonies were established before becoming the heart of American slave country, protesters have called for the removal of a statue of General Robert E Lee, the leader of the Confederate army. .

In Washington, a statue of Confederate general Albert Pike was torn down last week.

Increasingly, other figures who hold large places in American history are also not safe, and on Monday evening a crowd tried to topple the statue of Andrew Jackson, the seventh President, in Lafayette Park, close to the White House.

President Donald Trump has defended the Confederate monuments and said that removing them would destroy U.S. history and culture.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 11:31:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/anti-racism-protests-turn-spotlight-on-icons-of-us-history/article31901094.ece

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