(KWES) - Over the last week, the talk of racially motivated rallies has dominated conversations throughout the nation, including here in West Texas.
A history professor at Midland College sat down with us to try and explain the rallies from a historical perspective.
The rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, are some of the latest put on by white nationalists, a gathering that is shocking to many but Henry Professor of History at Midland College David Hopkins says these are common and have been going on for hundreds of years.
"We see Klan numbers and white nationalists number spike in 2008," said Hopkins. "What do you think happened in 2008 that would have caused that? The election of Barack Obama. Here in 2017, I think that's a reaction to 8 years of an African-American president. So this isn't something that just happened, they've always been there."
This latest rash of rallies was organized in response to the possibility of Confederate monuments coming down. In the Permian Basin, we still honor General Robert E. Lee and General Matthew Ector, both leaders in the Confederate army.
"They [Confederate monuments] were erected during a period called Jim Crow, where whatever gains you had made during reconstruction they pulled a lot of that back," said Hopkins. "Whether it was the water down of the 14th and 15th amendment, later separate but equal laws in the 1890's. That's sort of the context that you have a lot of these statues put up. In many communities, these statues were erected to intimidate African Americans."
Hopkins said the history of the Civil War will not be forgotten as long as it stays in books and is taught in schools and it won't change the principles America was founded on.
"We were founded on principles of equality, freedom, opportunity, life, liberty and happiness for everybody," said Hopkins. "We have to work to make that happen. Freedom and equality for everybody. Whether you're white, black, brown, male or female, I don't care."