Dr. Kerry L. Haynie, director of Duke University's Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender, struck a note of caution in removing the Confederate monuments.
"I am fearful as an educator that we will forget the past," Haynie noted. "You often see now in textbooks and various places almost a denial of a slavery past or a racist past. One of the purposes those monuments serve is to remind us of that past."
He is concerned that those important lessons may take time to sink in. "My theory is it will get worse before it gets better," Haynie said, pointing to a lack of leadership in Washington and at the grassroots level.
"When it takes the president a couple of days to respond to racism and white supremacy on the part of the KKK, neo-Nazis and the so-called alt-right .... that is troubling. And I think that gives some of those elements the belief that they can act without there being a strong response."
"These monuments to the confederacy are not the real issue. What underlies the protests around the monuments is the unease at the changing demographics," he said, pointing to the growing proportion of African Americans, Latinos as a part of the overall U.S. population. "So removing the symbols of the confederacy wont change that ... If its not the monuments it will be something else."