Exploring the controversy of Confederate monuments

David Trowbridge, associate professor and director of African and African American Studies at Marshall University, will give a presentation on the ongoing controversy surrounding Confederate monuments and symbols Feb. 27.

The event will be held at 6 p.m. in Drinko Library Atrium and is part of the series of Black History Month events sponsored by The Carter G. Woodson Lyceum.

“One of the issues that has been in the news recently involving African American history has been the debate about what to do with some of these confederate monuments,” Trowbridge said. “I thought it would be a topic of interest to people. I believe history allows us the ability to make arguments based on specific evidence, allows us to have constructive dialogue and we could be more creative than simply removing something or leaving it in place.”

One of the subjects Trowbridge will be talking about is the monuments built in the 1920s versus those built during the reconstruction period during the 1860s-70s.

The monuments reflect the views of those who were in control in the decades when they were created, but the 1920s was when there was an explosion of monuments. A lot of it has to do with the politics of the early 1900s, and who was in charge at the time.

“The question of what to do with these now phases us, and it’s not just in the United States,” Trowbridge said.

“This monumental landscape is being constructed deliberately to place white supremacy on a pedestal,” Trowbridge said. “But that is never the only thing they are doing; they are also honoring veterans and some of them are there. So, these speeches are interesting and worth exploring because they have these two conflicting goals.”

Trowbridge is a veteran himself, serving in the Iraqi War, as well as a historian.

“I think we need to understand that … there are many ways to preserve history besides a monument,” Trowbridge said.

Hannah Swartz can be contacted at [email protected]