Charlottesville

Racism and white supremacy are not relics of our past — their venom bars families like yours and mine from opportunity and put lives in danger here in Georgia and across the country.

This weekend, racist groups from around the country gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to denounce the removal of a statue that honors the Confederacy. Their goal was to inspire fear and incite violence.

Celebrating those who defended slavery and tried to destroy the Union is unacceptable, and this persistent debate puts in to sharp relief the ways in which communities of color and other minorities continue to be harmed under the false rationalization of “Southern Heritage.” Confederate monuments belong in museums where we can study and reflect on that terrible history, not in places of honor across our state.

But I do not want to give those white supremacists the attention they so crave. I would rather focus on the resistance they met.

In Charlottesville, Atlanta and other cities around the country, thousands of counter-protesters lined up to courageously demonstrate that they would not support hatred. They would not accept fear.

One of those brave protestors, Heather Heyer, lost her life while fighting for justice. A white supremacist ran a car through a crowd of counter-protestors, injuring 19 and taking Heather’s life. Make no mistake: This was an act of terrorism.

I am so grateful for everyone raising their voices to move our country forward.

Here in Georgia, we continue to grapple with our own vestiges of hate. The image carved into Stone Mountain, like Confederate monuments across this state, stand as constant reminders of racism, intolerance and division.

And while the current managers have worked hard to place Stone Mountain into historical context with an audio tour that reminds visitors of the scourge of slavery, the visible relief is a blight on Georgia and should be removed.

It is the time for truth and reconciliation. Now is the time to hold our leadership accountable, to take to the streets, to march, to protest.

Because we have been fighting these battles for too long.

Because Donald Trump believes both sides are at fault, even if finally forced to say otherwise. But we all know only one side is denying the humanity of people of color and the Jewish community, and those of us of conscience and morality are standing against hate to move our country forward.

Because no one in our country should live in fear, and everyone should feel their lives are valued.

Thank you for staying in this fight.

Stacey Abrams