A lightly attended gathering of the Leflore County Monument Committee met Tuesday to discuss revived plans for a tribute to recognize the role the county played in American black history.
The committee, formed in 2017, hadn’t met previously this year, but interest in the monument resurfaced following protests around the country over police brutality and racism. Those protests have included the removal or defacing of Confederate monuments, similar to the one that has been prominently displayed on the Leflore County Courthouse lawn since 1913.
Critics have claimed the monuments glorify a war that was waged to try to preserve slavery in Mississippi and the rest of the South.
The Leflore County committee was created three years ago to propose a tribute that would not replace the Confederate monument but serve as a counterbalance to it.
Plans are still being considered for what the structure might look like, but the three committee members who attended Tuesday’s meeting discussed the idea of a walk-through timeline of Leflore County’s black history and the civil rights movement.
“We are going to try to add more people,” said Bishop Milton Glass, pastor of New Green Grove Church of Faith and the committee’s chairman, referring to the monument. “Black history is all over the land, everywhere. But I think we owe it to (the area’s civil rights leaders) to honor them because there were some people who really put their lives on the line in a day when others wouldn’t. I think they deserve it, and their families deserve it.”
The Rev. Dr. Calvin Collins of New Zion Missionary Baptist Church noted that the Confederate monument is only part of the American experience.
“The statue, to some degree, is one-dimensional,” Collins said. “Most people see the statue as a remnant of slavery and what that commemorates. But, we’re trying to broaden the perspective of what this history is about.”
While this meeting was happening, the Greenwood City Council heard from Troy Brown Sr., who was one of the original proponents of the two-monument plan but has recently changed his mind and called for the Confederate monument’s removal. Brown asked the council to pass a resolution supporting that removal, but the council took no action.
The civil rights monument committee’s project would be financed by community contributions.
“Right now there is not a budget in my mind,” said Allan Hammons, the owner of a Greenwood advertising agency who helped develop the B.B. King Museum in Indianola and designed the Yanky 72 Memorial in Itta Bena. “I think it’s a great endeavor, I think it’s something we should all pursue, and I really do think there will be widespread community support for this.”
The monument’s importance was not lost on Hammons and Glass, who lived through the civil rights era of the 1960s.
“Even though we’ve come a long way, we got a long ways to go,” Glass said.
The next meeting is scheduled for June 25 at 4 p.m. at the courthouse.
• Contact Adam Bakst at 581-7233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @AdamBakst_GWCW