Push to rename monuments linked to racist history

Fort Bragg, a small city on the California coast north of Mendocino, will hear from the public next Monday about whether the city should change its name.

Army leaders and the Republican-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee appear open to re-naming Fort Bragg and nine other military bases named for Confederate leaders.

Mayor Will Lee says it won't be the first time the issue has come up and he welcomes dialogue in the city of 8,000 residents. He says there is a big difference between the city and the military installation.

"Fort Bragg, California was named before the Civil War. We have no connections whatsoever to the confederacy except that the city is named after Braxton Bragg who at the time was a Union General," Lee said.

The outcry and protests over George Floyd's death and racism in America is prompting another look at the past.

Calls for Confederate figures and symbols to fall have swept the nation into a deep debate over the memorials and monuments which define our history.

The question of who America puts on a pedestal has become  hotly contested.

Some say confederate symbols should be taken down because they represent racism and those people who sought to preserve slavery.

Nationwide, statues of confederate figures have been marked or toppled by protesters.

In Kentucky, the governor ordered crews to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis from the state capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says confederate statues should be removed from the Capitol building.

The Confederate flag last week was banned by NASCAR at all events.  

Statues of Christopher Columbus also have been pulled from stone pedestals.

In San Francisco, red paint covered the statue of Christopher Columbus near Coit Tower, marked by vandals. It is a sign of the times as the nation wrestles with how to mark its history.

Some say the statues and memorials preserve history.

"To try to hide that history is probably not a smart move," said Ben Carson, the Housing & Urban Development Secretary, "Smart people, wise people use their history in order to improve."

History, however, is not always clear cut according to architectural history professor Irene Cheng at the California College of the Arts.

"History isn't just something that happens and gets written down and recorded sort of organically or spontaneously, but it's really consciously made and produced," said Cheng.

Cheng says history shows most Confederate statues were not built after the Civil War, but generations later in the 1900's during the Jim Crow era.

"This was a time when whites were reasserting their power after reconstruction," said Cheng.

"One thing that makes statues so fraught, makes memorials so sort of symbolically charged is that they're intended to be permanent," said Cheng, "It's sort of one generation's way of saying to the future, this is how we think you should remember the past."