He continued, “Some of our prestigious universities have a relationship with the slave trade. Should we go and rename those universities? It really gets to a point of being ridiculous after a while. And, you know, we’re going to have to grow up as a society.”
Activists have argued that monuments and buildings honoring the Confederacy, slavery and white supremacy should be removed or renamed. Statues, like ones of Christopher Columbus and Jefferson Davis, have been toppled. The Clemson University Board of Trustees voted to remove the name of slave owner and secessionist John C. Calhoun from its honors college.
Meanwhile, cities continue to be gripped by demonstrations against police brutality. Fresh outrage was sparked in Atlanta after the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks, a black man, on Friday night — leading to an officer being fired, the police chief stepping down and instant condemnation.
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who appeared on ABC shortly after Carson, said it was “a fairly infantile response” to say words and dates don’t have meanings.
“This isn’t about growing up,” Abrams said. “It’s about taking responsibility and having accountability for the actions that have been taken by this country and by people acting on behalf of this country. And we do have a day of reckoning and that day of reckoning is going to continue until we actually make change.”
The administration has come under fire for finalizing its rollback of Obama-era LGBTQ health protections on Friday, on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shootings, in the middle of Pride month and during a global pandemic.
And, after pressure to delay his upcoming campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., Trump moved the rally to June 20 rather than Juneteenth, the day honoring the end of slavery — a major holiday for many African Americans.
Carson on Sunday said Trump was planning to make remarks about the Tulsa race massacre and the history of Black Wall Street in his campaign rally. “But, you know, it is what it is. And it’s probably good to have moved it,” Carson added.
Carson advocated that the country work together, as institutions begin to make sweeping changes in response to systemic racism. “As long as we’re all willing to listen to other opinions,” Carson said. “We have to stop, you know, putting everything into the arena of combat.”
But pressed on some of Trump’s tweets, which have supported dominating the streets with troops, the secretary said: “There are lots of different ways to express things.” He pointed to the looting and destruction of businesses, saying it wouldn’t make sense to “allow anarchists to just take over.”
“We obviously need to acknowledge that there is a reason that the protests are going on. There’s no question about that. But it also means we need to open the discussion,” Carson said. “We need to listen to the police as well as to the protesters.”