Chatham County, NC Confederate Statue To Move

Confederate soldiers monument outside the Old Chatham County Courthouse. in Pittsboro, N.C. CREDIT HILARY PEREZ / NC DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

I came across this story that tells us, “Chatham County’s Confederate monument will come down by November — one way or the other — commissioners decided Monday night. After a raucous, roughly 80-minute meeting punctuated by shouts of support and jeers of opposition from both sides, the Chatham commissioners voted 4-1 to ask the Winnie Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to bring a plan for the statue’s removal to the county by Oct. 1. Commissioner Andy Wilkie cast the lone vote against the motion. If the UDC does not offer a solution, the county will declare it public trespass by Nov. 1, making it eligible for removal, the board said.”

Commissioner Jim Crawford said, “The monument represents government speech that at one time was consistent with the ruling values of the county. Now its message is inconsistent with the ruling values of the county.”

According to the story, “Chatham’s Confederate statue has stood at the historic courthouse in Pittsboro since the county let the UDC put it there in 1907. No one has suggested destroying the monument, Commissioner Karen Howard said, but it should be moved to a cemetery, a memorial garden or another appropriate location. The community dialogue should continue, she said, and could be led by a reconciliation panel. ‘American history is not clean and simple. It’s not black and white,’ Howard said. ‘It is a convoluted history that involves many issues that were not the issues of the average person on the ground, and certainly, the voices of black people have not been heard in the telling of these stories.’ ”

It looks as though the UDC may have been dishonest in their dealings with the county commissioners over the removal. The story continues, “The community has talked for months about whether to leave the statue, move it or give it another purpose. The statue is privately owned, although it sits on public ground. The state’s 2015 law, which limits the removal and alteration of monuments on public grounds, does not apply to privately owned monuments. County officials said it is the UDC’s responsibility to do something with the statue. The group Chatham For All also asked the commissioners in April to return the monument to the UDC. A group of supporters asked in May for the county to preserve the statue in its current location. Barbara Pugh, president of the Winnie Davis Chapter, signed an agreement in July to work with Commissioners Chair Mike Dasher ‘in good faith’ on a mutually acceptable solution. One option was making the statue a memorial to all veterans. But Pugh then told Dasher the UDC wasn’t going to talk about it. In a statement released Aug. 5 to the Chatham News & Record, Pugh said the statue belongs to the county, which would make it a public monument. ‘It is inappropriate that we re-imagine the statue in any way’ other than as a gift to the county, Pugh said in the statement, which was addressed to the commissioners. The UDC is willing to seek a legal opinion from a judge, she said. Pugh declined to comment after Monday’s vote.”

We find that, “Over 1,000 people have signed a petition supporting the statue’s removal, said Emily Moose, with Chatham for All. She is a native North Carolinian and also had ancestors who fought for the Confederacy, Moose said, but none of that should matter. A public monument codifying ‘one race’s superiority over another is antithetical to the values that America claims to uphold,’ she said. Efraim Ramirez, who was among roughly two dozen people who spoke Monday, offered an alternative: Replace the soldier with a statue of enslaved poet George Moses Horton. Horton was born a slave in Chatham County but taught himself to read and made extra money writing poems for UNC students and others in a lifelong attempt to buy his freedom. He instead bought his time from his master and used it to write and publish his poems.”

At the dedication of the monument “on August 23, 1907, Chief Justice Walter Clark of the North Carolina Supreme Court was introduced as the guest speaker for the occasion. In his remarks, which the Raleigh Times newspaper published, Clark suggests the possibility that the 14th amendment to the United States Constitution “to secure the rights of the newly emancipated colored people” was not adopted legally.”

More information on the monument here.

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