Many years ago, I wrote an article about the Confederate monument in Nashville’s Centennial Park. I ended by describing how Nashville citizens who were frustrated with having a monument to segregation in our most iconic location (with a symbol to democracy–the Parthenon–at its center) couldn’t respond even with an interpretive sign, let alone removal. The Tennessee Heritage Protection Act prevented cities from enacting ANY changes to Confederate monuments without state approval.
Now, I’m proud to share that my law article on this topic was just published by the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law (JETLaw). The article is called, “Grey State, Blue City: Defending Local Control Against Confederate ‘Historical Preservation.'”
Confederate monuments have become lightning rods across the American landscape. While these ubiquitous symbols have spread Lost Cause propaganda for over one hundred years, they have also instigated unprecedented protest and violence since the 2015 Charleston massacre, 2017 Charlottesville rally, and 2020 George Floyd murder. In response, southern state legislatures have passed preemptory “statue statutes,” laws that obstruct left-leaning cities from removing Confederate monuments. This Note compares the political and legal strategies cities and citizens have used to overcome these legal barriers, both in opposition to individual monuments and statue statutes themselves. Using Tennessee’s Historical Commission waiver process as a case study, this Note reveals how commission-based statue statutes act as objective façades disguising partisan bans on Confederate monument removal. Therefore, this Note urges that cities shift their energy from seeking waivers against individual monuments to publicly challenging historical commissions and statue statues so that citizens can regain legal pathways to peacefully and safely remove Confederate monuments.
My blogpost about why Tennessee’s Confederate Monuments aren’t coming down was recently published by Vanderbilt’s Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law. Check it out here.
ARTICLE SUMMARY: Metro Parks Board faces an uphill battle in responding to renewed calls for Confederate monument removal after George Floyd’s death. The burdensome petition process mandated by the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act prevents local leaders from answering calls for change in a timely manner.
Braver Angels recently hosted a conversation between me and my “Red” friend Greg Smith, a blue-collar Ohian, former police chief, and loyal Trump supporter. Soon after Biden’s inauguration, Greg wrote a facebook post demanding that liberals stop calling him and his friends “racist.” When Greg asked me to engage in a public conversation about this topic, I was terrified. However, the topic–and our friendship–seemed too important for me to say no.
You can watch below or listen here. (P.S. You can hear the song I wrote with Greg’s daughter here). Please let me know what you think!
Want to hear some moving and creative new songs written to support a great cause? Check out the “article” (conversation) below that I wrote with my friend Ronni Lynn (Here’s a song we wrote/sang together)! It features some of our favorite submissions to the Braver Angels Songwriting Contest. To be considered for future articles and contest prizes, submit your song before July 4th, 2020!
I recently became “Director of Cultural Engagement” for Braver Angels (formerly “Better Angels”)–a political non-profit fighting to depolarize America. In my new role, my biggest initiative has been launching a national songwriting contest, which you can read about or even enter here. Together with legendary songwriters Peter Yarrow, Steve Seskin, and Aaron Barker, as well as a committee of musically inclined Braver Angels, we’re trying to create more ways for artists to get involved and support our work. You can read about my past work for Braver Angels in my “It’s About U.S.” project.