Art is powerful. Who we chose to immortalize, to lionize, to commemorate and to remember are often those people our society also teaches us to emulate. But for many decades Southerners, Black, brown, and white alike, have asked the question, why should their Southern cities and town celebrate men and women who actively fought to deny the humanity and freedom of Black folks?
We know that the fight to end white supremacy and to free the South from the legacy of slavery and anti-Blackness will be incomplete if it stops with replacing racist symbols without also replacing racist systems. However, art is powerful. In removing statutes to Confederate leaders who fought to protect the institution of slavery, Southerners are making clear statements about who they are, who they are not, and who they are hoping to become.
In the paintings that follow, artist Ben Hamburger uses art, a tool that has been used to oppress, as a tool to document the process of the reckoning happening in dozens of towns and cities across the South.