Friday, July 14, 2017

Charlottesville's Parks and Statues: A Season of Discontent

Far and away the biggest news story in Charlottesville, these past twelve months, has been City Council's vote to rename Lee and Jackson Parks and to remove the two equestrian statues. Indeed, this has become a national news story, alongside a similar decision by the city of New Orleans to remove several Confederate memorials.

The debate about the statues has raised temperatures on both sides. Early this summer, I was stunned to learn that the KKK would gather in Charlottesville (I did not realize the KKK was even still an active organization). Fortunately, their protest last Saturday was quite small (it engendered a considerably larger counter-protest).

As an educator and student of history, I am sorting out my feelings and opinions about this debate. While practicing law, Dad and I had picnic lunches frequently in Lee Park; as I've written before, the cherry tree there is my favorite tree in the city. I do not have nearly as much certainty about the path forward as the outspoken advocates on either side. I do think that Mike Signer has done a very good job of representing the city -- and I do not envy him the pressure he is facing.

The Lee Park cherry tree, circa 2013

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