Congressional Reps Clarke, Rose push for renaming of Ft. Hamilton streets

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Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke addresses town hall meeting.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Brooklyn Democratic Congresswoman, Yvette D. Clarke and Congressman Max Rose, an Army combat veteran, on Thursday called on the US Secretary of Defense to rename two streets at Fort Hamilton, a US Army base in Brooklyn, named after Confederate generals Stonewall Jackson Drive and General Lee Avenue.

Clarke and Rose’s push follows comments this week by the Secretary of the Army, who said he is  open to renaming bases named for Confederate leaders, as well as by President Trump, who tweeted his opposition.

“We write to urge you to rename two streets located at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn that are currently named after generals of the Confederate States of America, Stonewall Jackson Drive and General Lee Avenue,” write Rose and Clarke in a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

“We swore an oath as public officials to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,’ and to ‘bear true faith and allegiance to the same,’” they add. “While we were encouraged by news this week that the Army might consider renaming military installations named after Confederate generals, men who violated that oath to our country, we are similarly disturbed by recent social media posts suggesting that these names are part of a ‘Great American Heritage’ and are ‘Hallowed Ground.’”

U.S. Representative Max Rose (D-NY) speaks during a Town Hall Meeting in Staten Island, New York, U.S., Oct. 2, 2019.  REUTERS / Andrew Kelly

The congressional representatives Shiloh, Antietam and Gettysburg are hallowed ground, “places where Americans gave their lives to end the practice of slavery in our country; bases named after men who sought to keep their fellow men and women in bondage are not.”

“We hope that you will act swiftly to rename the streets in Fort Hamilton and all places named after Confederate figures,” the letter says.

“It is impossible to disentangle these men’s identities as individuals from the cause they rebelled against our nation to defend,” it adds. “US military bases and property should be named after men and women who’ve served our nation with honor and distinction, not sought to tear it apart to uphold white supremacy.”

Clarke and Rose said American servicemembers deserve to serve on bases that honor their ancestor’s contributions to the nation – not those who fought to hold those same ancestors in bondage.

“Our Armed Forces should not honor men who divided this country in the cause of slavery,” the letter says. “American history provides a proud litany of African American heroes, including many brave Brooklynites, who fought in the service of our country to uphold the core principle of democracy: that all men are created equal.

“We urge you to consider some of these men and women as suitable replacements for those who fought to uphold the lie that members of the human race are unequal.,” the letter adds. “The streets of Fort Hamilton should be named after brave men and women who fought for our country and its values, not those who opposed them.”

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