The debate surrounding the removal of Confederate statues in the South is an important one.

Remembering our history without glorifying it is a small but essential part of healing the racism that clearly still lives and breathes in America.

And, an important question to ask in this process is, why are there no (or few) memorials to those who lived and died in slavery?

Memorials to the millions who suffered under slavery and, later, Jim Crow laws could change the impact of existing Confederate statues. Imagine a memorial similar to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, who stands for millions, in the same line of sight as a charging Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Or a statue of an enslaved child facing down Stonewall Jackson, like the statue of “Brave Girl” standing before the charging Wall Street bull and transforming both.

Plaques that put these memorials firmly in context could help us all understand ourselves better.

Keeping these statues in places of honor hasn’t worked to heal our racial divide, and I suspect making them “disappear” won’t either.

Putting them in museums, as some cities plan to do, is better. But why not continue and enlarge the public conversation by including all those who have been and are most affected by racism?

Maybe then we can continue to see images of Confederate generals, and start seeing them clearly.

Margaret Curtis

Portland