(FreshAsFrankie) Charlottesville was a watershed moment for race relations in the United States of America. Since the chain of tragic events that took place on August 12, there has been a 214% increase in the removal of Confederate monuments around the nation. But the 29 that have been uprooted and the 35 currently planned for removal mark the tip of the iceberg, considering there remain over 700 Confederate monuments on public land. In this decisive moment in history, the American Civil Liberties Union has pledged to put their resources and will into cutting down on that number substantially.
“When we do not deal with the ugly truth about our history, we have no chance of going forward in any kind of a productive way,” ACLU Director Jeffrey Robinson said during a live broadcast on Thursday night, August 24. “Getting rid of the Confederate monuments will … make us deal with the truth.”\
ACLU has been taking action on the ground to bring their plan to fruition by dispensing their 200,000 People Power activists to press forward with petition drives and digital campaigns to garner the public’s support. But ACLU isn’t the only organization doing the work to confront the issue, and in fact, some have criticized the organization for making moves only after it became a hot button issue. Prior to Charlottesville ACLU had, perhaps regrettably, defended the fundamental right to free speech by white supremacists. They face dissension for taking such a direction in spite of their long history of advocacy for progressive causes. Over the period in which they disengaged from the fight, Color of Change and Change.org picked up the slack, garnering more than half a million signatures for the removal of Confederate monuments.
For a time ACLU’s position triggered a debate among the organizations, with the Color of Change managing director Arisha Hatch responding to ACLU’s, proclaimed support of “free speech” by stating that she sees the perspective coming from fringe organizations on the far right as “hate speech” and not “free speech.” Color of Change has since agreed to disagree on the topic and express that they are glad ACLU has amended its position post-Charlottesville. “Obviously, we have a different theory of change than the ACLU,” Hatch said. ”But their support sends a message that they’re in support of black civil rights leaders who are making these calls. They’ve been an incredibly important partner.