It's Time for Allendale to Remove its Confederate Statue
Allendale is home to the only Confederate statue in Michigan, making Allendale the state’s Confederate Capital. This symbol of racial inequality and hatred is located in the Veteran’s Garden of Honor at Allendale Township Park, and is maintained at taxpayer expense.
About Allendale's Confederate Statue
- The statue is located in the Veteran’s Garden of Honor in the Allendale Township Park in Allendale, MI.
- It was installed and dedicated in 1998.
- The Veteran’s Garden of Honor contains statues to honor United States veterans from multiple wars.
- The statue representing the U.S. Civil War contains three people: a veteran of the United States of America (U.S.A.), a veteran of the Confederates States of America (C.S.A.), and a Black slave child.
- The veteran of the Confederate States of America stands holding a Confederate flag, back-to-back with the United States veteran who holds a U.S. flag.
- The Black boy is positioned between the two soldiers, crouching at their feet, without shirt or shoes.
- In his hands, the Black child holds a document that reads, “Freedom to slaves! Jan 5 1863 AL.” “AL” refers to Abraham Lincoln.
The Statue's Racist Symbolism
- The symbolism of a Confederate soldier standing with a U.S. soldier presents the soldiers as moral equals, even though the Confederate soldier fought in an attempt to continue enslaving other human beings and engage in human trafficking.
- The presence of a Confederate statue and flag in the Veteran’s Garden of Honor gives honor to Confederate soldiers, to the practice of slavery which they fought to preserve, and to the Confederate States of America—an enemy that fought against the United States.
- The inclusion of a Black slave child represents Black people as children who are subservient to white adults.
- Positioning the Black child at the feet of the soldiers represents Blacks as second class citizens, and honors the system of racial inequality that persists to this day.
- It suggests that Black people played no role in establishing their freedom, and instead were at the mercy of white liberators.
- Placing this statue on government property in a place of honor is official government speech which voices that the Allendale Township Board honors Confederate soldiers, the Confederate flag, the Confederate States of America, and the racism embodied in the Confederacy.
The Statue's False Representation of History
- Confederate soldiers did not fight for the United States military and are not U.S. veterans.
- Confederate soldiers were not honorable and did not fight for an honorable cause.
- The Confederate flag is not a United States flag. It is a flag of the Confederate States of America, an enemy of the United States, and a proponent of slavery.
- There was no known resident of Allendale Township who was a veteran of the Confederate States of America.
- Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The date on the document held by the slave child is January 5, 1863. This date is historically inaccurate.
The statue perpetuates the myth of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. “The Lost Cause of the Confederacy, or simply the Lost Cause, is an American pseudo-historical, negationist ideology that advocates the belief that the cause of the Confederate States during the American Civil War was a just and heroic one.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Cause_of_the_Confederacy]
Will removing the Confederate statue erase history as some have claimed? Absolutely not. But it will remove a historically inaccurate symbol of racism from our public park.
Allendale Township Board Supports Symbol of Racism
The Allendale Township Board of Trustees has refused to take action to remove the racist statue despite multiple protests and the majority of citizens at board meetings calling for its removal. By their inaction they are sending a clear message that not everyone is truly welcome—or equal—in Allendale.
Grand Valley State University Statement
In a letter to Allendale Township officials about removing the Confederate statue, GVSU President Philomena V. Mantella wrote: “We have a keen interest in your decision, and while our nation’s history is complex, the harm and symbolism the statue represents to our Black and underrepresented community is real.”
GVSU Kutsche Office of Local History - Deconstructing Confederate Monuments
What You Can Do
Contact the Allendale Township Board of Trustees. Tell them you want the Confederate statue removed and that Allendale needs to be a community where everyone is welcome and equal.
- Adam Elenbaas, Supervisor, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jody Hansen, Clerk, email@example.com
- Dave Vander Wall, Trustee, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Kenneth Murillo, Trustee, email@example.com
- Candy Kraker, Trustee, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Barb VanderVeen, Trustee, email@example.com
- Bruce Zeinstra, Trustee, firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Ways to Get Involved
Allendale's Racist Statue in the News
Allendale’s Confederate statue has put a media spotlight on racism among our elected officials and community:
- GVSU president urges Allendale Township to relocate Confederate soldier statue (Mlive)
- Controversial Allendale statue an inaccurate portrayal of history, historian says (Holland Sentinel)
- West Michigan Civil War statue: Celebrating slavery’s end or racist? (Detroit News)
- How this Confederate soldier statue became part of a veterans memorial in Michigan (Mlive)
- Controversial Allendale statue a ‘symbol’ of larger issues of racism, its opponents say (Mlive)
- Allendale community still divided over Civil War Statue (WZZM)
Confederate Statues and Flags in the News
Statue of slave kneeling before Lincoln is removed in Boston (AP News)
House votes to remove Confederate statues from Capitol (Detroit News)
Robert E. Lee Statue Is Removed From U.S. Capitol (NY Times)
Mississippi’s Confederate flag is gone — but a legacy of white supremacist policy remains (NBC News)
Confederate statues are coming down following George Floyd’s death. Here’s what we know. (CNN)
Virginia Military Institute removing Confederate statue (Politico)
Report counts how many Confederate statues have been removed since George Floyd’s death. It’s a lot. (USA Today)
Congress set to strip Confederate names from U.S. military bases (Georgia Recorder)