A Virginia county is grappling with what to do with a Confederate monument that has been the source of local controversy, and is now facing a possible lawsuit from the NAACP depending on the final decision.
The Mathews County Board of Supervisors is facing a decision about the future of a statue honoring Confederate soldiers that currently adorns the town center. Racial equality activists have pushed for the statue to be removed, while conservative organizations in the area are asking to be given the statue and surrounding land.
The idea of handing over a piece of land to a private organization is a fresh take on handling an ongoing effort across the country – and particularly in the South – to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources told the Washington Post no other Virginia location is considering a move like it.
Two organizations that have been floated as possible recipients of the statue and land around it are the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
President of the Mathews County NAACP, Edith Turner, told the Daily Press her office has been working to convince the county to remove the statue entirely, but after the Confederate groups made their pleas to be given the monument, the NAACP is preparing to go to court to prevent it from happening.
The Mathews County NAACP sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors urging them not to gift the statue to any Confederate organizations.
“The County must refrain from favoring Confederate displays, which would be the obvious result of deeding the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and surrounding public land to groups with a pro-Confederate view,” the organization wrote.
“Actively supporting the ongoing display of Confederate flags or other memorabilia on the Mathews Courthouse Square creates a hostile and unwelcoming environment for Black families in Mathews County and interferes with the rights of Mathews County residents.”
A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday for local residents to weigh in on the future of the monument.
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