Recommended: A report by KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman on monuments to the Confederacy in Arkansas, particularly at the state Capitol, and how they’re viewed by defenders and critics.
Critics — though there’s no serious effort underway to remove the monuments in Arkansas — say they can be viewed as tributes to the South and its heritage only if you exclude black people from being a part of that heritage.
Dr. Carl Moneyhon, a historian at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and an authoritative published voice on Arkansas’s civil war and reconstruction period, says the idea that Confederate monuments were intended to honor anyone other than whites would have been a foreign concept to those that built them.
“If you had asked a white person in 1890 in Louisiana or Arkansas ‘what was Southern?’ blacks would not have been included as part of it. So, no, these monuments are a celebration of white Confederate culture.” Moneyhon continued, “the kind of thing you see today where whites begin to talk about black Confederates, you would have never seen that.”
There’s less emotion about the statues than such symbols as the Confederate flag most agree.
Moneyhon makes the point that the monuments have skewed modern-day perspective of Arkansas’s place in the Civil War.
As few as two monuments to Union soldiers exist in Arkansas despite the state having the highest per capita enrollment of any Southern state in the Union ranks, according to Moneyhon. He argues Arkansas effectively went from being “a divided, frontier state into a Confederate state” as historical memory was recast in the decades following the war.