Did you know there's a Confederate Memorial on the grounds of Charlotte's old City Hall? I didn't, until I chanced to walk past it Monday morning. It's not prominent, set off to one side along Davidson Street. And by Confederate memorial standards it's modest – no statues of men on horseback. It's just a square hunk of granite with some carving. This not being South Carolina, no Confederate flag was flapping in the breeze.
"Mecklenburg County remembers with honor her gallant sons who fought in the armies of the Confederate states," it says. "With the other brave soldiers of the South, they struggled nobly for the cause of independence and constitutional self-government. Their heroic deeds will be forever honored by patriotic men and women."
Now, a Confederate memorial isn't a rare thing in the South. They were erected for decades after the Civil War and on into the early years of this century.
Then I saw, at the bottom of the granite square, this: "Erected by the Confederate Memorial Association of Charlotte, May 10, 1977"
1977! Does that strike anyone else as a bit late in the 20th century to be erecting memorials to a cause that – for all the talk about states rights and honor – saw nothing wrong with enslaving thousands of human beings? By 1977 the schools were integrated, black Americans were voting, and no one was being arrested for sitting in the front of the bus. Harvey Gantt, a black architect, was a city council member, if I'm not mistaken, and another black politician, Fred Alexander, was serving in the state Senate. Yet apparently Charlotte's city fathers and mothers were OK with putting up memorials to the Confederacy at City Hall.
I wonder what politicians in 2008 think about that memorial. I doubt they'd allow one erected today. But would any push to have it removed?