Follow-up letter to the Board of Supervisors
To The Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors:
We have made the decision not to attend the Thursday, July 9 Board of Supervisors meeting in person due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus, our ages, and some underlying health issues. We trust you will understand.
We wanted however, to present to the board some additional points to consider that are pertinent to our request to have the Confederate statue removed.
- There are large letters on the base of the statue “CSA “– Confederate States of America – and an inscription which reads in part: “In memory of the Confederate Soldiers of Lunenburg County and the cause for which they fought from 1861 – 1865. We fought for the sovereignty of the states “.
The equality issues facing our society today unequivocally reject the causes for which the Confederacy fought. One has to look no further than our Pledge of Allegiance to hear that we are “One Nation under God, Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all”. A memorial to the sovereignty of the states does not belong in front of our courthouse in the year 2020.
From best we can determine, the statue came about in 1916 through the efforts of the Daughters of the Confederacy in memory of their relatives and (as noted on the statue inscription) to recognize that “our patriotic womanhood was an inspiration.” Its move to the current courthouse in 1968 was reportedly a joint effort of the Board of Supervisors and the Daughters of the Confederacy.
- Patriotism today is much different than it was in 1861 or in 1902 when Virginia imposed a new constitution that included poll taxes and literacy tests which barred most Blacks and many poor whites from voting.
According to a recent article in the Richmond Times Dispatch, at this same time, around the turn of the century, the Confederacy-glorifying Lost Cause narrative – was rising and so were the statues. Thus our statue was erected, first in Victoria, as that was supposed to be the location of the courthouse, then moved in 1968. Since then many strides have been made in civil rights and equality for all. The statue does not reflect the current state of patriotism in our county or country.
- Some would say we are trying to erase history. Not so. Samuel E. Morison, a noted American Historian who died in 1976, at the age of 89, stated, “We ought to read history because it will help us to do better.”
Currently, approximately 34.2% of the citizens of Lunenburg County are African American. The national average is 14%. This indeed is a significant part of our Lunenburg “corporate body “which is directly affected. There are others as well who favor the move. We can give people a choice to view the statue – now there is no choice and no context and only one side of the story.
Now is our time in history to rise to our challenges. Our county does not need symbols of division and inequality in front of our Courthouse where Justice is served for all. Every day is ours to write our future. If part of our community feels slighted or diminished by this statue and what it represents, the issue needs to be bravely faced. We are one Nation, one body, and when one part of us hurts, credence needs to be given. We can heal this hurt and lift each other up.
- Some would say, what will you do with the statue and who will pay for it?
These are indeed good questions. There are several Civil War museums close by and work could be done by the Board to explore these options.
The statue could be placed in storage, as is being done by other cities in our Commonwealth. Who will pay? The county placed it there and, in our minds, should be responsible for removing it. Some would say that the money could be spent on something more important. We say it would be money well spent and well invested to heighten the inclusiveness of all in our county for generations to come.
- As a minister I, Rev. Wiley P. Wallace, used to preach a sermon entitled,
“For What Will You Be Remembered?” As the Board of Supervisors takes up this question of the removal of the statue, perhaps this is a relevant question for each member to answer for himself, his district, and for the future. You were elected to represent and lead our county into a better tomorrow. We believe your Vote on 7/9/2020 to remove the statue on would do so.
“Wisdom is proved right by her deeds” Matt 11:19
Wiley and Carole Wallace