Since the ignition of the Black Lives Matter movement, fueled by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed man killed by police, citizens around the world have spoken out against centuries of systematic racism and social injustice.
One of the current debates headlining America is whether statues and military bases recognizing the men who fought to keep slavery alive during the Civil War should be removed or left alone. While protestors have urged for it, Donald Trump and members of the Senate have argued against it. Now, the descendants of some of those men are speaking out.
“We have a lot of people in American history that we should be valuing that we’re not and I think now is the time to reassess those things and have other people—Native Americans, women, and African Americans,” says Milbry Polk, 66, whose forebear Gen. Leonidas Polk is honored with Fort Polk in Louisiana. “So many people make up our fabric of America that we should be looking for role models there, not just people who were generals.”
According to Politico, this week, the Senate will be discussing bipartisan legislation to force the Pentagon to remove the names of Confederate officers and 10 Army bases that expand across the South from the state of Virginia to Texas.
Trump opposes such legislation and has vowed veto any amendment intended to rename key figures during the Civil War era. On Tuesday (June 30) night, he tweeted:
“I will Veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth’ Pocahontas’ Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won two World Wars, is in the Bill!”
The great-great-grandson of George Pickett, George E. Pickett V, believes that the statues honoring those who served in the Confederacy during the Civil War should be removed.
“They should be permanently removed and either destroyed or sunk in the ocean for a fishing/diving reef: the Graveyard of the Confederacy,” he said.
Reports state that it wasn’t until recently that the Army saw the reasoning behind changing the names. Following the tragic mass church shooting in 2015, by Major General Malcolm Frost, the Army’s chief spokesman stated that the names of the Army bases are a representation of the soldiers who hold a spot in military history. While many understand the Army’s point of view, several descendants, including Mimi Kirk, understands what needs to be done to rectify the issue.
Mimi Kirk, the great-great-great-granddaughter of General John Brown Gordon, who wants the base named after the General to be renamed, so it doesn’t honor a white supremacist, insists that white people need to assist in the fight for equality. She states:
“I think white people should follow the lead of Black activists and people of color more broadly fighting for equality and rights, and support this struggle in any way we can.”