Soldier Statue Removal

September 20, 2022
Just when I think that things are hopeless and that there’s no justice in this world, something happens to challenge that theory.  This week, it was the installation of Mary McLeod Bethune’s statue in the National Statuary Hall in the U. S. Capitol - representing Florida, no less! 

My cynicism is because Florida has a history of “race riots” when white people killed black people and destroyed their property, including Rosewood in January 1923, Ocoee in November 1920, and Perry in 1922.  Most of us don’t know about those incidents because the history we are taught in schools in the U.S. tends not to report negative scenarios such as these, apparently because it might make white people feel bad about themselves.  Isn’t that the justification for banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Florida, among other states?

Yet, here we are, in 2022, replacing the statue of a Confederate general from the state of Florida with the statue of a black woman who championed civil rights, women’s right to vote, and universal education.  It makes me want to weep with joy and gratitude. 

What a perfect example of how God renews our faith.  I was recently reminded that one of the mottos of the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s was “Keep the Faith.”  We didn’t often actually say it, but it was understood that it was faith in God that we embraced.  I was fortunate enough to be born after most overt racial incidents were over, but I am constantly reminded that they’re not really over.  Subtle racial oppression is alive and well.  It just resurfaces in different forms, like voter suppression and microaggressions.  But ultimately, we must “Keep the Faith.”  Faith in God that, in His Time, we will see justice.

I am moved by the words from Mrs. Bethune’s Last Will and Testament: “I leave you love.  I leave you hope.  I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another.  I leave you a thirst for education.  I leave you a respect for the use of power.  I leave you faith.  I leave you racial dignity.  I leave you a desire to live harmoniously with your fellow man.  I leave you a responsibility to our young people.”

May you rest in peace, Mrs. Bethune as we applaud you.  I know that you are celebrating this stellar recognition in heaven.  Someday, I will go to Washington, D. C., just to gaze upon your statue and to thank you for reminding me to “Keep the Faith.”

Submitted by
Phyllis Solgere
Christ Lutheran Church
Oakwood, GA