ONLINE–Confederate Monuments, Military Bases, Confederate Flags and the Scourge of Racism
July 14 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Racism in the United States has existed since the colonial era involving practices that restricted the political, personal, and economic freedoms of African Americans. While racial discrimination was largely proscribed by the mid-20th century, extensive evidence of racial discrimination in various sectors of modern U.S. society, including criminal justice, education, business, the economy, housing, health care, and media, still exists.
Among the current overt efforts to limit the rights and opportunities of Black Americans are found symbols designed to remind and frighten those citizens of the physical and psychic offenses administered to them and their forebears. Confederate flags, monuments honoring rebel leaders, and the names of several military bases honoring southern officers are now under attack.
Fred Benson, Seth Singleton, and Nat Fenton will address the points of view surrounding these relics during a virtual talk with the Jesup Memorial Library on Tuesday, July 14 at 7 p.m. This event is co-sponsored by Acadia Senior College.
Benson will present brief histories of how and why ten US Army installations were named for Confederate Generals, and describe why some oppose removing them on historical grounds. Singleton will look at how others have tried to confront the sins and symbols of their history, and why historical ghosts are never quite laid to rest—tales from Russia, Vietnam, China, and South Africa. And Fenton will make the case that these intimidating relics must be removed from public lands. They must be removed not to hide history but to create our own history consistent with our centuries-old self-evident truth “that all Men are created equal.”
Benson has been engaged in national and international government affairs activities in the White House, the Pentagon, and with Weyerhaeuser Company. He also served in the United States Army with responsibilities including senior positions in the offices of the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army as well as aviation and ground command assignments in Korea, Vietnam, and Alaska. He was selected as a White House Fellow and subsequently served as a member of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Benson and his wife Ann have been happily ensconced on this beautiful Island for 16 years.
Singleton is professor of international relations, most recently at the University of Maine. He studied Russian history at Harvard and political science at Yale. He has held grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Council on Soviet and East European Research, the Kennan Institute, the Open Society Institute, and has been a Fulbright Scholar in Vietnam and Bolivia. He lived in Russia during its revolutionary upheaval in 1991 and 1992, in Tanzania shortly after its independence, and in Vietnam as one of the first postwar US Fulbright Scholars, in 1999-2000. How nations understand and reinterpret their history, particularly at times of change and stress, is a subject of great interest. Singleton and his wife Charlotte live in Hall Quarry and appreciate our vibrant MDI community.
Fenton grew up in Bar Harbor, one of four living children of William and Elizabeth Fenton. He was educated in Bar Harbor Elementary Schools, St. Mark’s School, Bowdoin College and Cornell University Law School. He came back to Bar Harbor and practiced law from 1972 to 2019. He has served in civic and nonprofit positions on the Bar Harbor Warrant Committee, the Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island School Boards, Friends of Acadia, Acadia Senior College, MDI Biological Laboratory, MDI YMCA and MDI Hospital. His interests are history, flying, sailing, motorcycling, travel and learning. He is married to Sugar and they have three children.
A Note from Our Director:
When a community member reached out to us about having a program about the history of the military bases with Confederate names and the discussion around changing them we thought it would be a good way to bring this national conversation to the Jesup. We believe that the planned presentation will be of value to our community.
However, we understand that the full conversation must include the many voices that should be heard in this conversation. We are working with local partners to be able to bring additional (virtual) programs to our community.