As Americans debate whether monuments to slave owners, including many of the country’s founders, should be taken down, count singer Justin Timberlake as someone who wants them to go.
“If we plan to move forward, these monuments must come down,” Timberlake, a native Tennessean, said Monday on social media. “But let’s remember: Removing these statues does not erase our country’s vile history of oppression — removing them is a symbol of respect for Black people in America and it’s a step towards progress and actual equality for all.”
Timberlake wrote his message alongside a video from the American Civil Liberties Union, which notes that the 10 states with the highest numbers of monuments honouring slave holders and members of the Confederacy accounted for a large number of lynchings — 4,000 — between 1877 to 1950.
The “Mirrors” singer’s words come as symbols of systemic racism across the country are being taken down.
They’re being removed in some places by the government and in others simply by people who want change, as they gather to protest against police brutality and racial inequality following the death of George Floyd. Last week, for instance, leaders in Boston voted unanimously to remove a statue of Abraham Lincoln that features a freed Black slave kneeling at the former president’s feet.
Some statues have been toppled by protesters, such as one of Jefferson Davis, once the president of the Confederate States of America, in Richmond, Va., last month.
Similar action has been taken in the UK, with statue of slave trader Edward Colston toppled by protestors last month and dumped in Bristol Harbour.
Also, Oxford University's Oriel college voted to remove the statue of British imperialist Cecil Rhodes in June.