A New York Democratic representative has asked the U.S. Army to rename two streets at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn that are named after Confederate generals, but the Army has refused.
Rep. Yvette Clarke tweeted Monday she will continue to “call on the Army to reckon with history and remove the names of Confederate generals from Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn.”
The Army often names streets on bases after military figures who hold a place in history.
The streets in question are Stonewall Jackson Drive and General Lee Avenue in Fort Hamilton.
Both generals spent time at the base in the 1840s prior to the start of the Civil War.
“These monuments are deeply offensive to the hundreds of thousands of Brooklyn residents and members of the armed forces stationed at Fort Hamilton whose ancestors Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson fought to hold in slavery,” Clarke said in a statement. “For too many years, the United States has refused to reckon with that history. I commend the city of New Orleans for initiating this important and often difficult work. I will continue to petition the Department of the Army to contribute to that effort.”
The City of New Orleans removed monuments that honored Confederate figures back in June, and Clarke and other Democrats then sent a letter to the U.S. Army asking for the streets in Fort Hamilton to be renamed, saying it was a “grievous insult” to Brooklyn residents who might be descendants of slaves.
The U.S. Army responded and said it recognized the “significance and sensitivity of the issue,” but that the Army often names streets on bases after military figures who hold a place in history – the “great generals” on both sides of the Civil War are “an inextricable part of our military history,” the Army said, The Hill reported.
The Army said the streets in Fort Hamilton were named after Lee and Jackson “in the spirit of reconciliation” after the war, and that Lee and Jackson were not representatives of “any particular cause or ideology.”
The Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army, Diane Randon, wrote in the Army’s response to Clarke’s June letter that: “After over a century, any effort to rename memorializations on Fort Hamilton would be controversial and divisive. This is contrary to the nation’s original intent in naming these streets, which was the spirit of reconciliation.”
Clarke said this was “nonsense.”
“[That] ‘reconciliation’ was actually complicity by the North and the South to ignore the interests of African Americans and enforce white supremacy, effectively denying the result of the Civil War for generations,” she said. “We are still living with the failure of this nation to fully accept that result, as well as the post-Civil War amendments that were ratified to establish the freedom of women and men who had been held in bondage.”