FAIRVIEW CONFEDERATE MONUMENT
In 1904, a Confederate monument was erected in Fairview Cemetery in Liberty. The purpose of such monuments, hundreds of which were built during that time period, was to remind African-Americans of their subordinate position in the community and remind them of the constant threat of physical harm if they failed to act accordingly. This twenty-foot Confederate monument has stood for 116 years, looming over a separate portion of the cemetery where 700 African-Americans were buried, most without markers.
We believe the impact today on people whose ancestors were enslaved for generations needs to be recognized and addressed. This post-traumatic effect is partially the result of the continuing influence of the Confederacy’s commitment to white supremacy as expressed by permanent symbols such as this monument. Its presence makes racial reconciliation much more difficult.
The removal and relocation of the monument need not disturb or desecrate existing graves. Further, gravesites that are determined to belong to individuals should be memorialized.
We will continue to work with the Liberty City Council to remove and relocate the monument.
Letter to the Editor
The dispute over the Confederate monument in Fairview Cemetery has continued for more than a year. The voices in favor of keeping the monument on block 174 attempt to equate the Confederate monument with the recently approved development of the Liberty African American Legacy Memorial which is also in the cemetery. They say, “If the African American Legacy Memorial is built, then, in fairness, the Confederate monument should be allowed to continue to stand.” This equates the two installations. It is a false equivalency -- they are not equal.
The purpose of the Liberty African American Legacy Memorial is to memorialize the people who were buried in the east section of the cemetery, most of whom had no markers and many of the names were lost. In many cases, those buried in that section of the cemetery have lain in unmarked graves for more than a century.
The same could be said for those who are buried in block 174. From the installation of the monument in 1904 until the fall of 2020, there was no marker on block 174 that memorialized, by name, any person buried there. Those people, like all others in the cemetery, should be remembered for having lived and died in our community.
So, what is the difference between the two areas of the cemetery? A 20-foot monument that celebrates the Confederacy, a sovereign country founded on the premise that Black Americans were inferior to white Americans, stands tall on block 174. In his “Cornerstone” speech of March 1861, Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens said without equivocation or apology: “…its [the Confederacy] foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man. …”
Removal of this celebration of white superiority would not need to eliminate memorialization of the those buried in block 174 nor disturb any graves there. In fact, a new memorial consisting of the names of those known to be buried in block 174 would remember them without the stain of the Confederacy on their lives and memories. It is likely that a commitment to white superiority did not define their lives.
The monument that celebrates the Confederacy does not stand for the values of Liberty’s citizens and should be replaced with a marker that simply remembers the lives of those buried there, as the Legacy Memorial will do for African Americans.
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