When you come to Montgomery, you see fifty-nine monuments and memorials, all about the Civil War, all about Confederate leaders and generals. We have lionized these people, and we have romanticized their courage and their commitment and their tenacity, and we have completely eliminated the reality that created the Civil War.
The landscape in Montgomery and in the South is just saturated with imagery. Markers are everywhere. There's a marker for the first Confederate post office, there's a marker for a ball that Robert E. Lee hosted, there's a marker for where Jefferson Davis had a meeting. We love reminding people about all that was going on in the mid-nineteenth century.
Embracing a certain quotient of racial bias and discrimination against the poor is an inexorable aspect of supporting capital punishment. This is an immoral condition that makes rejecting the death penalty on moral grounds not only defensible but necessary for those who refuse to accept unequal or unjust administration of punishment.
If we want to be proud of our country, if we want to be proud as Americans, if we want to be proud of our history, then we can't talk about the things that are inconsistent with pride, about which we can have no pride.
Part of the reason why we're only now reaching a point in American society where we can talk about the need for truth and reconciliation and the legacy of slavery is that it was such a dominant part of our history.
I do talk and think a lot about the legacy before me. I feel like if I didn't know that people had been in Montgomery sixty years ago trying to do similar things that I'm trying to do, with a lot less, with fewer resources, with less security, with less encouragement, with less opportunity - if I didn't know that, then I think doing what I do would be much, much harder.