The following commentary was submitted to the Mirror by Dr. Paul Strong, MD, of Cape Charles.
I want to express my disappointment that the Northampton Board of Supervisors has continued to lack the will to address the Confederate statue in downtown Eastville. Statues in public places should celebrate people and events which we can take pride in, things that inspire and elevate us.
Rather this statue celebrates a very dark period in our history when the soldiers it honors revolted against the U.S. to defend a way of life that depended on subjugating Black people to slavery.
It is apparent that this statue must be offensive to a large segment of our population in Northampton County; in fact, I find it personally offensive. The statue was erected in the “Jim Crow” era, when over 1000 such statues were simultaneously erected all over the South. They were produced during a time when White Supremacy was being consolidated across this region. To say that such a statue is a celebration of history makes no more sense than to leave up signs identifying “Negro water fountains” or “Colored waiting rooms” as relics we are proud of.
Fortunately, many such statues across the south are now being removed, as they should be. When several similar statues were removed in New Orleans its mayor, Mitch Landrieu, said, ”These statues are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy — ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for.” He went on to say, “It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America. They fought against it.”
To me it is unacceptable that when the Black citizens of our county need to go to court near there, they should be reminded of how terribly they were treated in our not-too-distant past.