Stephen Dou­glas played a ma­jor role in state his­tory, por­trait should re­main

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION -

Re­mov­ing por­traits and stat­ues of Stephen Dou­glas of Illi­nois is an over­re­ac­tion to a gen­uine con­cern about con­fronting the virus of racism in our past.

There is a great dif­fer­ence be­tween those who founded and led this coun­try, in­clud­ing slave­hold­ers up un­til the Civil War, and those Con­fed­er­ates who re­belled and fought against this coun­try.

We can­not erase Dou­glas’ place in our his­tory by cov­er­ing or re­mov­ing his por­trait. As noted in a Sun-Times story, the base of his statue is en­graved with his “dy­ing message to his chil­dren, ‘. . . to obey the laws and sup­port the Con­sti­tu­tion of the United States.’ ” It is for us, to­day, to clar­ify, ex­plain, cel­e­brate and ques­tion with in­tegrity the en­tire record of this ma­jor fig­ure in our state’s nar­ra­tive.

Our recog­ni­tion that “Black lives mat­ter” ought not re­quire eras­ing a piece of the Amer­i­can story that makes us un­com­fort­able. Let’s not be dis­tracted from con­fronting the virus of racism in our present time, in our cul­ture, our in­sti­tu­tions, and what­ever yet lingers in our own hearts. Rev. Martin Deppe, Ravenswood Manor

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