The commission advising the city of Atlanta on its Confederate memorials and monuments has held its final public comment session and has made recommendations to the mayor and city council.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he’s reviewing those recommendations with other city officials and will publicly announce how he plans to proceed with them on Monday.
Reed joined Denis O’Hayer on “Morning Edition” to talk about the recommendations and his personal relationship to Atlanta’s Confederate monuments and memorials.
On the commission’s recommendations
Candidly, they want action taken immediately on streets that it really doesn’t take a scholar to understand they’re offensive: streets like Confederate Avenue. Regarding other monuments, they have given very detailed advice to my office and to the Atlanta City Council on a path forward around them. We’re going to make all of the recommendations available on [our] website, and then lobby the Georgia General Assembly to change the law to permit local decision making with respect to Confederate monuments.
On whether streets named after Confederate leaders qualify as memorials
That’s going to be a conversation that we have to have. I think that it’s certainly within the city’s purview to change the name of a street. If a member of the legislature decides that they have a different opinion, that’s something that we’ll just have to have a conversation about.
On whether changing a monument or memorial would risk legal action
Anyone can file a lawsuit. If they want to be on the side of protecting the name of Robert E. Lee, Confederate Avenue that’s just a conversation we’ll have to have. If it becomes the subject of litigation, then the city will do what it needs to do until a court decides. But in a short order, we’re going to take decisive action regarding the recommendations that were made related to streets, and then we have some very thoughtful legislation recommendations related to monuments.
On how aware Reed was of Confederate monuments and memorials as he grew up in Atlanta
I was very aware of it because I had parents that really cared about this issue, and they took advantage of Atlanta’s location to point these sites out. My experience was a little different, because my mother and father spent a lot of time with my brothers talking about the history of the city and the history of the civil rights movement.
On whether the Confederate memorials and monuments bothered him growing up
Some did. Some less so. Stone Mountain has always been offensive to me for my entire life. I was always aware of Confederate Avenue and East Confederate Avenue because there’s a part of a city facility where they take towed cars. The straight answer to your question is some were very offensive, some were not.