Racist Confederate Statues—Substitutes for Burning Crosses
White supremacy did not end after slavery was abolished. The monuments to honor Confederate leaders were erected to honor their service to the Confederacy, whose main reason for existing was to protect and extend the selling and exploitation of human beings and white supremacy. Putting up such statues across the South was common after the Civil War, and was part of the idea that was reinforced by racist lynching in San Antonio. This often took the form of blacks and Mexicans being charged with striking a police officer, raping white women, or being accused of killing a white person. It also involved groups of racist whites circling Bexar County during Reconstruction to prevent blacks from voting. The KKK was organized in 1868 in San Antonio and was determined to undermine civil rights. According to Express News accounts of 1868, armed gangs of white racists roamed Bexar County in an attempt to keep blacks from voting. On farms, where blacks worked, these roaming bands of criminals went about intimidating blacks to prevent them from coming into the city to vote.
Bexar county planters, on farms across Bexar County, were able to use the legal system to sentence blacks for bogus crimes forcing them to work for free. In fact, some Bexar County roads were actually constructed using black labor of men that were falsely arrested. Research has shown that blacks refused to pick cotton on the Cibolo Creek and were poisoned using “Paris Green,” a deadly green toxic powder that was used to kill rodents. Unbelievably, according to researcher James Smallwood, the planters denied the claim of murder and said “blacks died from eating Green watermelons.” This was typical of the lies generated by white supremacists.
In 1874, according to Mason, “Black leaders complained that victims of police shootings were seldom investigated to determine whether the display of force was necessary.” In one case a deputy sheriff from an area outside of Bexar County was jailed after an argument with a black man and upon his release shot him and no attempts were made to prosecute him. According to the San Antonio Evening Light of 1874, a black man by the name of Edward Jenkins killed a white man in a fight. Jenkins was hanged in San Antonio on August 17, 1874 in what could only be described as a racist kangaroo trial by a Bexar County Judge. In another legal lynching, George Washington, a supposed mentally ill black man was accused of assaulting a white woman according to the San Antonio Light of 1883.
The building of racist Confederate statues and monuments was at its peak right after the Supreme Court ruled in 1896 that segregation was legal in the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson. The peak years of southern human bondage worship was between 1895 and 1920, a time when racist white mobs were burning and lynching blacks across the south. Building these despicable structures also increased during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. These statues were nothing more than substitutes for burning crosses. All kinds of fake history is still being used to justify keeping these statues in place. For example, blacks did not freely fight for the Confederacy unless they were man-servants, the Sambos of that time, and the Civil War was centrally about keeping the selling of humans in place. The South lost the war, but they did not want to lose their fond memories of oppression and white supremacy. We don’t need reminders of racial injustice in our face, this is what museums and history books are for.