Charlottesville 2017- Madeline MacArthur

White supremacy in Charlottesville has its roots in the 1920s, which is when the statue of Robert E. Lee was erected. The KKK was especially strong in the area at that time. Racism was rampant and black people and culture were seen as the enemy and antithesis to America. Later, in 2016, a 9th grader named Zyhana started a petition to have the Robert E. Lee statue removed, as well as the Stonewall Jackson statue. These statues served as a painful reminder of the horrible treatment of African Americans throughout history, and they honored figures who were instrumental in troubling causes. After it was announced that the statues would be removed, August of 2017 saw a rise of white supremacy terrorists in Charlottesville. When white supremacists starting rioting against the removal of the statues, counter protestors showed up, and counter protestor Heather Heyer was run down by a car and killed. Many locals tried to make a bigger effort to honor African Americans and they put up portraits around the city that were commissioned by African Americans, and people to this day are still trying to give them a bigger voice and tell their story. Antisemitism was also a big part of the racist rallying cries in Charlottesville. On August 17th, 2017, Nazi protestors surrounded Charlottesville’s synagogue on Shabbat and yelled antisemitic statements and sang racist minstrel songs during the service. These events have led the community of Charlottesville and especially UVA students to reflect on what responsibility they have and how they can combat the “Unite the Right” movement. UVA and the area around it has seen much gentrification, which took away homes from many underprivileged people.

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