East Valley NAACP President Calls for Confederate Monuments in Arizona to Be Removed
July 22, 2020 UPDATE – Two Confederate monuments in Arizona will be relocated to private property (via AZFamily.com)
(June 1, 2017) – Did you know that six Confederate monuments are located in Arizona?
The six Arizona monuments to the Confederate Army include:
- Arizona Confederate Veterans Monument in Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery in Phoenix, erected in 1999 by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
- Arizona Confederate Veterans Monument in Wesley Bolin Park, next to the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
- Confederate Memorial in the Historical Soldiers Memorial Cemetery area of the Southern Arizona Veterans’ Cemetery in Sierra Vista. The monument was erected in 2010 to honor the 21 soldiers interred in that cemetery who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and later fought in Indian wars in Arizona as members of the U.S. Army.
- The Jefferson Davis Highway near Apache Junction in Maricopa County.
- Battle of Picacho monuments at Picacho Peak in southern Arizona.
- Monument at the four graves of the only Confederate soldiers killed in action (by a group of Apaches) in Arizona, Dragoon Springs stagecoach station east of Tucson.
If it was up to Roy Tatem, president of the East Valley NAACP, the Grand Canyon State would have zero.
Thus, Tatem is spearheading a crusade to get all of those monuments removed primarily because of what they represent and because they are located on public land in Arizona.
“For historical reference, Arizona was not even a state from 1861-65, so the state of Arizona was not even a part of the Confederacy,” said Tatem. “It makes no sense for the Confederates to be remembered here. The Confederates wanted to secede from the Union and perpetuate segregation, slavery and states’ rights over the United States of America. However, they lost the Civil War and rejoined the Union. That means the Confederacy should have been dismantled. No Confederate flags should be flown with pride and no statues should be erected with pride.”
Arizona is the 48th state and last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the Union, achieving statehood on February 14, 1912. That was 47 years after the Civil War ended.
Tatem is not the first African American leader in Arizona to call for these markers on public property to be taken down.
As recently as 2015, Rep. Reginald Bolding demanded that the Arizona Confederate Veterans Monument in Wesley Bolin Park be removed and the Jefferson Davis Highway be renamed. However, Bolding’s proposal got caught up in bureaucratic red tape and his requested changes never happened.
Tatem believes that his campaign has a stronger chance of success because this issue has gained more notoriety since 2015. In addition, Confederate flags and statues have been taken down in New Orleans and South Carolina – the hotbed of the South.
“People are much more aware nowadays,” said Tatem. “Baltimore and my hometown of Richmond, Virginia are considering removing their Confederate monuments. If we’re talking about officials in the capital of the Confederacy at that time (Richmond) planning to remove their monuments, then Arizona should definitely be in that conversation, being that Arizona wasn’t even a state when the Confederacy was formed.”
Tatem said that he has reached out to Governor Doug Ducey to start discussions on having these monuments removed but Ducey has not yet responded.
In the meantime, Tatem will press forward. He hosted a press conference on June 5 at the Arizona Informant offices in Phoenix with religious leaders, elected officials and community activists. They repeated their calls for Governor Ducey to take action.
If you live in Arizona and want to support Tatem, you can visit the East Valley NAACP Website and use the Contact Form to provide your personal information. Tatem added that a petition via Change.org is forthcoming.
“I believe the removal of these monuments is extremely important because Arizona has established a negative image as far as inclusion and acceptance of people of various backgrounds,” said Tatem. “We want to give the world a message that you are welcome in Arizona regardless of your religion, race and socioeconomic status. I believe the Confederate monument removals will show the world that Arizona is a progressive place, a safe place and accepting place for people of all walks of life.”