Over the past several weeks, I have listened carefully to many members of our community who have brought passionately different perspectives regarding the issue of the Confederate Stars and Bars flag and the civil war commemorative plaques and cannons in Old Town. This debate has presented us with an opportunity to consider diverse viewpoints pertaining to how we should mark our history in an appropriate and respectful manner.
These diverse perspectives include those who feel strongly that the Confederate flag and any other Confederate artifact of any kind need to be removed from Old Town immediately. Others believe that the flag and artifacts are all valid historical reminders of the important role that Albuquerque and New Mexico played in the fight for freedom for all Americans.
There is much to consider here including consideration of facts and consideration of the very real and differing perspectives of our diverse city.
Those who consider the flag and artifacts to be nothing more than markers of history, should consider those who are deeply offended by the Confederate flag flying in Old Town because they view it as a celebration of an ideology that did not recognize all men as equal and an affront to those who died to ensure freedom for all.
Those who consider the Confederate flag, plaques, and cannons to be so objectionable that none of them have any appropriate use as markers of our history should consider that Albuquerque and New Mexico played an important and historically significant role in turning back Confederate plans for westward expansion; and there is merit in honoring the role we played at the place where that history took place.
As we consider all sides to this issue, we need to search for common ground and do our best to build a bridge connecting those who have fundamental differences of opinion – a bridge that will also foster deeper and more meaningful dialogues on other important issues facing us as a city, state and nation. And as always, carving out common ground will result in a compromise that may not please everyone.
After taking all of this into consideration, I have determined that the City of Albuquerque will no longer fly the Confederate flag over Old Town. It will be returned to its owner or donated to the Albuquerque museum and replaced by the City of Albuquerque official flag. The City will however continue to mark our important contribution to the fight for equality for all Americans by retaining the civil war era cannons and plaques that accurately represent our place in the history of the Civil War. Historically inaccurate plaques and plaques that imply bias will also be removed and returned to those who donated them.
We should never ignore our history; but we should also recognize and display our history in a way that is respectful to all those who it represents. By striking this balance, it is my hope that we can work through this debate as a community and build a strong foundation for future discussions of importance to us all.