Rye on "whiting out history": "What I can tell you for sure is that history has already been whited out. What we know is that erasure has existed for indigenous people, for black people and for all people of color... So we talk about whiting out history. What has already happened is there's been significant erasure from the beginning of time. So when you talk about these monuments and who American history has chosen to lift up as our heroes what is the truth, Chris, is that some of these people are history makers but they're no heroes of mine, right? And because they're history makers the question is do they belong in a book, do they belong in a museum or should they be celebrated, commemorated and memorialized in a statue, and I think there's a big difference there."
Rye gives a history tidbit on the first president: "Did you know George Washington was not only a slave owner but one who believed he was worthy of the very teeth that were in his slaves mouthes? Is that someone who you want to commemorate on the dollar bill, with a statue, with a holiday and on Mount Rushmore?"
Rye on Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln being deemed as great presidents: "What I would say is maybe they were great presidents to someone... the truth of the matter is this country is built on a lot that's not good. This time is allowing to reset and really think about what is right, what is true, and how we should go forward. There's so much that we were taught in history books that is not accurate, right? And I don't think we shouldn't hold up heroes or deem them heroes because it makes us feel better."
Rye on convincing the country to ditch its history:
CUOMO: What [George Washington] did was wrong but he was the father of the country and you have to see your history of where people were then. They were highly imperfect. This is an experiment. If you hold everybody to that standard you'll have nobody. And no buy in on the minority of the country cannot change what's wrong by itself. you need the majority to buy in. That's a big obstacle to getting white Americans but non-white Americans also to say we've got to remake the heroes in America.
RYE: I do believe that should be the charge. I do believe if right now we're in a society that has just for example talking about R. Kelly, right? R. Kelly has been canceled given this new term that exists on social media because of his predatory relationship with underage women. Rightfully so. Do you know who else had a predatory relationship with underage women? Thomas Jefferson. The question is should we be celebrating and commemorating people who were that treacherous to whole groups of humans in this country and I would argue no.
So if 41 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence can talk about these truths that they hold as self-evident and then go to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But, oh no. There is a large footnote. I wasn't considered human to them. So much so that the Dred Scott decision said so. So much so that we had to wait several years after the Declaration of Independence for the Emancipation Proclamation to even be signed. And I think that we have to have those types of grounding conversations.
Chris, maybe it is that people will say there's still my Founding Fathers. That alone, the patriarchial sentiment that exists in that I think also has to be reframed. Why aren't there any black women heroes on Mount Rushmore? We can't even get Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill afterit being agreed to in the Obama administration. We're not talking about the indigenous people whose land was stolen from right beneath their feet. Sitting Bull should be on Mount Rushmore. Crispus Attucks fighting in the American Revolution before he was even deemed human should be on Mount Rushmore. Frederick Douglass who really shaped the way Abraham Lincoln thought about slavery.