GOP effort to restore Confederate ‘Mammy’ monument narrowly defeated

A Republican-led effort to restore a confederate statue featuring a Black “Mammy” in Arlington National Cemetery was narrowly defeated late Thursday afternoon.

The restoration of the Reconciliation Memorial was introduced by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) but failed to pass in a 192-230 vote.

Two dozen Republicans voted against restoring the monument. No Democrats voted in favor of the restoration.

The statue, first unveiled in 1914, features a woman with a crown of olive leaves standing on a pedestal. The woman holds a laurel wreath, a plow stock and a pruning hook. At her feet, a Biblical inscription reads, “They have beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning hooks.”

The statue, allegedly designed to represent the American South, includes a Black Mammy holding what is thought to be the child of a white officer, as well as an enslaved man following his owner to war.

Black Mammies were depictions of Black women seemingly happy with their enslavement.

“The caricature portrayed an obese, coarse, maternal figure,” the Jim Crow Museum explains. “She had great love for her white ‘family,’ but often treated her own family with disdain. Although she had children, sometimes many, she was completely desexualized. She ‘belonged’ to the white family, though it was rarely stated.”

The Arlington National Cemetery described the Reconciliation Monument as “a nostalgic, mythologized vision of the Confederacy, including highly sanitized depictions of slavery.”

In December 2023, the statue was removed at the recommendation of an independent commission.

Ahead of the statue’s removal, more than 40 House Republicans sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, arguing the commission overstepped its authority. Clyde led the charge at the time.

The members’ letter argued that the monument “does not honor nor commemorate the Confederacy; the memorial commemorates reconciliation and national unity.”

But House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) on Friday blasted House Republicans for the most recent restoration effort, calling out fellow New York Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Marc Molinaro and Brandon Williams who all voted to pass the bill.

All three Republicans are facing an uphill battle in their reelection campaigns. The outcome of their elections could determine which party controls the House of Representatives.

“What tradition are extreme MAGA Republicans — including Rep. D’Esposito, Rep. Molinaro and Rep. Williams — upholding? What confederate tradition are you upholding? Is it slavery? Rape? Kidnap? Jim Crow? Lynching? Racial oppression? Or all of the above?” Jeffries said during a press briefing Friday morning in the Capitol.

“What exactly is the Confederate tradition that extreme MAGA Republicans, in 2024, are upholding,” he added. “And you want to use the National Defense Authorization Act to turn back the clock on progress that has been made in the United States of America? It’s shameful.”

Michael Lillis contributed to this article 

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