OBP Statement on Confederate Monuments

Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Contact: zachary@oregonblackpioneers.org

The recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others have outraged the world and brought renewed attention to the racial disparities between Black and white Americans in policing and criminal justice. As millions of people have mobilized to protest racial injustice, communities small and large are being forced to reexamine their public monuments which honor the champions of racist ideology. Activists, policy makers, and average citizens have pointed to public monuments to the Confederate States of America and its leaders as unacceptable endorsements of white supremacy and have therefore called for these monuments to be permanently removed.

Most Confederate monuments were erected long after the end of the Civil War, in eras of increasing economic, social, and legal opportunities for African Americans. This is not a coincidence. For decades, these monuments have deliberately served to intimidate people of color by venerating pro-slavery “lost cause” beliefs as central tenets of the communities where they were erected. Under the guise of “heritage” or “state’s rights,” Confederate monuments, flags, and other emblems have been allowed to stand on local, state, and federal lands for decades, primarily (but not exclusively) in the South, inspiring generations of racist vigilantism and state-sponsored violence against Black people.

We at Oregon Black Pioneers believe that monuments to the Confederacy have no value or redeeming quality in a just and empathetic society, and we support their removal. We also stand with other communities of color in the removal of public monuments to figures instrumental in the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism. In Oregon, this includes the removal of monuments to Christopher Columbus as well as statues of pioneers that settled upon lands stolen from Indigenous peoples.

It is ultimately up to communities to decide which monuments to take down and what to do with them once they are removed. Good arguments have been made in favor of preserving racist monuments as teaching tools, replacing or recontextualizing them in their original setting, or destroying them outright. We support continued conversations to discuss honestly and openly how to best commemorate the painful legacies of the past while celebrating our shared triumphs through an equity lens.


Oregon Black Pioneers was founded in 1993. Its mission is to research, recognize, and commemorate the culture and heritage of African Americans in the State of Oregon. Its vision is to be the premier resource for information about Oregon’s African American culture and heritage. For more information please contact zachary@oregonblackpioneers.org.