In the wake of public outcry regarding injustices faced by the Black community, there has been a spike in activity regarding the destruction of Confederate monuments.
Statues aren’t the only target for public eradication. Some schools named after individuals with racist pasts are subject to angry students requesting a name change.
One such institution facing this fate is the Joseph Sears School in Kenilworth, Illinois. The school website boasts about the businessman whom the school was named after.
At first glance, Joseph Sears was an apt founder of the school, Union Army private and esteemed member of society in his day. However, a brief search elsewhere reveals the dark nature of his role in society after the war. Sears boasted of his construction plans and his refusal of plot sales to anyone who wasn’t White.
Outraged at the discovery of this past, two students created a petition to change the school’s name, calling Joseph Sears a “white nationalist”.
In Chicago’s Washington Park earlier this week, a George Washington statue was vandalized, depicted wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood and various spray-painted writings, including “God Bless Amerikkka” and “slave owner.”
Along with the defaced George Washington statue, countless other monuments across the country, many Confederate, are seeing vandalism.
While we at The Alestle do not support illegal activity, we understand the desire to resurface the dark history behind the many renowned public figures at the brunt of these destructive actions.
Statues are erected to glorify and commemorate. The same can be said for naming institutions and organizations after well-known figures. However, glorification is not the same as education.
Removing statues and renaming schools is not about erasing history, but rather, delving deeper into it. When we glorify figures, but deny their whole truth, we miss an opportunity for true understanding. We miss the opportunity of looking at the past with fresh eyes.
Statues and school names don't tell history, museums and history books do. We at The Alestle believe history needs to be told, not handpicked and celebrated.