Former Georgia governor: Confederate monuments should serve as ‘a teaching point’

Confederate Memorial
A memorial to Confederate soldiers in Jackson, Ga., as seen on May 20, 2012. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

Monuments to the Confederacy should not necessarily be removed from the public square, but “should be a teaching point on how good intentioned people can become so blind in their views that blood is shed,” a former governor of Georgia said.

“The carvings of Lee, Davis and Jackson shouldn’t be blown off the side of Stone Mountain, but there should be a telling of the story in truthful terms and not the mythical terms of Gone With The Wind,” Roy Barnes wrote in a post on the website of his law firm. “Truth is truth and only the complete history should be told. We should examine each of the memorials and street names in this context.”

What to do with monuments to the Confederate States of America has permeated the national dialogue in recent weeks. A recent poll found that more than six in 10 U.S. adults (62 percent) believe Confederate monuments should remain as a historical symbol.

“Confederate memorials should be a teaching point on how good intentioned people can become so blind in their views that blood is shed,” Barnes wrote. “The memorials should not all be destroyed or taken down, but the full story should be told. They should be a constant reminder that politicians appealing to passion laced with race can lead to disaster and scar a nation for generations. In the current state of politics no lesson could be needed more.”

Barnes served as governor from 1999 until 2003. Sonny Perdue defeated Barnes to become the first Republican to be elected Governor of Georgia since Reconstruction.

During his tenure, Barnes removed the 1956 design of the state flag featuring the stars and bars. Perdue campaigned on a platform that, in part, included giving state residents a referendum on a new design for the state flag.

The current flag, which voters adopted in May 2003, is based on the Confederate First National flag.

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Sightseers’ Delight started publishing in June 2016. The site, published by The DeFeo Groupe, collects and curates content about places where historical events large and small happened. The site builds off the legacy of The Travel Trolley, which launched in June 2009. The site aimed to be a virtual version of the trolley tours offered in so many cities.