As most Alabamians know, the Confederate States of America were established in Montgomery in 1861, with Montgomery acting as the capital. However, when Virginia seceded from the Union, they offered up the city of Richmond to serve as the capital. With Montgomery being a much smaller city located so far south, it was an offer the Confederacy couldn’t refuse.
Even though the Confederacy lost the Civil War, its remnants and relics are spread throughout the South. After the Charleston shooting in 2015, there was a call to action to remove Confederate monuments. As more people began to rally around the idea and some of the monuments began to come down, many were worried that their Confederate heritage was being erased.
Earlier this month, a rally to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park (renamed from Lee Park in 2016) in Charlottesville, Virginia was held August 11 and 12. Dubbed the “Unite the Right” rally, protesters in the form of white nationalists, supremacists and neo-Nazis flocked to Charlottesville donning swastikas and Confederate flags and marching to racist chants.
Something to understand is that rallies like these are protected under the First Amendment. The people in attendance were practicing a constitutional right. However, things took a dangerous turn when the protesters began to get violent with the counter-protesters at the scene. The governor declared a state of emergency. There were three deaths and over 30 injuries.
The University of Montevallo is a unique place. Miles away from the first capital of the Confederacy, our student body is something that no one from that period could ever fathom. Students of all walks of life, races, religions, sexualities learning together, eating together, sitting on the quad together, joining the same clubs, sororities, fraternities. As scary as situations like the Charlottesville rally are, we should be able to come together as students, as colleagues, as friends and drown out the hate. This is a safe place.