When People Show You Who They Are

James Earl Ray shirt.001

Sometimes you just have to take people at their word and believe they’re showing you who they are. On June 27, 2020, a man wore this shirt at an emotional gathering in Union County, Arkansas, where some citizens were organizing to “save a Confederate Statue and preserve their heritage.”

This photo is from a screenshot of the event as the man stepped up onto the monument following the closing prayer, I think to pick up his megaphone. You might expect that some of the organizers questioned his shirt and asked him to distance himself from what they were doing. You’d be wrong.

Calloway on bike in El DoradoOn the same day and in the same shirt, the man rode his bicycle on Main Street saying “white power” over his megaphone. I mention this, because it would be nice to assume that organizers didn’t fully understand who he was or the racist views he espoused, but they knew and seemed to be fine with it.

Here’s a excerpt on the history of the monument from from El Dorado News Times:

The monument, purchased with funds raised by the Henry G. Bunn chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) from 1907, when the chapter was founded, to 1910, when the monument was erected, was unveiled in a ceremony on March 21, 1910. According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, 70 Confederate veterans were surrounded by 700 school children during the monument’s unveiling, which was accompanied by a city band performing “Dixie” as a UDC member pulled a 20 foot by 60 foot Confederate flag to reveal the monument.

As a child, I walked past this monument without thought. As an adult, I better understand it’s meaning and purpose, erected during Jim Crow to celebrate an oppressive way of life for some of our citizens.

El Dorado monument protestrI agree with the protester who carried a sign saying it belongs in a museum or next to a battle field, rather than next to a courthouse and the seat of government.

Regardless of those organizing to preserve history or their heritage, they’re fine with racism and the oppression of people based on their skin color.

Sometimes people show you who they are. No matter how they dress it up in patriotic phrases and soaring public prayer, it’s still racism.

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Monument photo from El Dorado News Times 

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